Ban on petrol and diesel cars is ‘immovable’ despite pleas of MPs, says Gove

Michael Gove has insisted the 2030 deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is “immovable”.

The Levelling Up Secretary has confirmed the “policy remains” despite calls from Conservative Party right-wingers to ditch the pledge. Asked yesterday if it was “immovable”, he replied: “Yes.”

Mr Gove said: “We’re committed to maintaining our policy of ensuring that by 2030 there are no new petrol and diesel cars being sold. I’m sure there are some people who would like to change that policy, I understand. But that policy remains.”

Rishi Sunak on Monday cast doubt on the green commitment over concerns it would heap costs on families amid the cost-of-living crisis.

The Prime Minister was said to be considering watering down some net-zero policies to take a “proportionate and pragmatic” approach to the environment.

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The Government has a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mr Sunak declined in an interview to recommit to the ban on the sale of new fossil-fuel cars by the end of the decade so as to reduce emissions. The PM warned against heaping “hassle” or extra fees on to families.

Mr Gove said he was looking at how ministers can “ease off” the pressure on landlords to ensure all private rented housing meets grade C level of energy efficiency requirements in 2028.

He said the phasing out of gas boilers for heat pumps would “impose costs”, adding: “We’re looking at how we can mitigate the impact on individuals. I think we are asking a little too much of them and therefore we will give them a greater degree of breathing space.”

Some Tories, including Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been calling for delays to climate pledges following the Conservatives’ narrow win at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last week.

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Labour’s failure to win Boris Johnson’s old seat has been widely attributed to local unease over the expansion of London’s £12.50-a-day Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme to the capital’s suburbs by Labour’s Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Gove stressed in interviews with Times Radio and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the need to take steps to get the UK to net-zero but issued a warning about costs to individuals amid high inflation.

He said: “It’s important that the Government does press ahead with appropriate and thoughtful steps in order to safeguard the environment but there are some specific areas where the cost that is being imposed on individuals risks creating a backlash. We don’t want to get to a situation where the support for improving our environment curdles and turns into resistance.”

Some Tories fear that keeping the 2030 ban could lose the party voters at the general election next year.

Referring to the result in Uxbridge, Lord Frost, Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, said: “The lesson is surely that green policies are very unpopular when there’s a direct cost to people – as indeed all the polling says. This time that hit Labour. But soon it could be us unless we rethink heat pumps and the 2030 electric car deadline.”

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