UK’s climate policy changes may raise costs and jeopardise goals –advisers

LONDON (Reuters) -Changes to Britain’s climate policies will make meeting its climate targets harder and could increase energy and transport costs for households, the country’s independent advisory panel on the issue said on Thursday.

Britain has a target to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Last month Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a delay in a ban on sales of new petrol cars, changes to plans to phase out gas boilers, and a decision not to regulate improved energy efficiency in rented homes which he said would save costs.

“The cancellation of some net zero measures is likely to increase both energy bills and motoring costs for households,” the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in an assessment of the policy changes.

The CCC said measures to upgrade privately rented homes had been forecast to save tenants of upgraded properties an average of about 255 pounds ($313.60) a year on energy bills, depending on the prevailing energy costs.

Critics say there is a lack of sufficient financial incentives, such as state subsidies, to make green conversions of domestic energy systems affordable for many households.

The CCC also said electric vehicles would be cheaper to own and operate over their lifetimes than petrol and diesel ones, so slowing the phase-out date would ultimately increase costs.

Electrical vehicles, critics say, remain more expensive to buy and lack an adequate nationwide re-charging network.

Sunak also announced about 20% of homes would be exempt from plans to phase out fossil fuel boilers – a decision the CCC said would make it harder to reduce overall emissions from the building sector.

The CCC welcomed announcements on a deal to electrify steel production at the Port Talbot plant in Wales and the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate specifying that only 20% of vehicles produced between 2030 and 2035 will be able to burn petrol or diesel at all.

A government spokesperson said it was confident of reaching the net zero target and that it was taking a fairer and more pragmatic approach to reaching the goal that would save households money.

“The UK remains a global leader on climate – cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country – so we are confident that we will meet our future carbon commitments,” the spokesperson said via email.

($1 = 0.8131 pounds)

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Heavens)