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Miliband hits out at Sunak over net zero policy shift

PA News
Shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rishi Sunak “does not give a damn” about climate change, Ed Miliband claimed following the Prime Minister’s decision to postpone a series of green policies.

The shadow net zero secretary said Mr Sunak saw the drive to cut emissions as an obligation forced on him rather than an economic opportunity.

Addressing the online conference of Labour’s sister Co-operative Party, Mr Miliband said: “We face three crises as a country.

“We face a cost-of-living crisis, we face a long-term economic crisis and we face a climate crisis.”

Former Labour leader Mr Miliband said Mr Sunak has “got answers to none of these” and “he doesn’t give a damn about the climate crisis”.

On Wednesday, Mr Sunak pushed back the ban on new petrol and diesel cars, softened the plan to phase out gas boilers by 2035 and scrapped the requirement of energy efficiency upgrades to homes.

And on Saturday the BBC reported that an energy efficiency taskforce set up to speed up home insulation and boiler upgrades has been disbanded, just six months after it was announced.

I think Rishi Sunak simply sees the climate crisis as an obligation to be managed, not an opportunity to be seized, and we see it as an opportunity to be seized
Ed Miliband

Mr Miliband said: “I think Rishi Sunak simply sees the climate crisis as an obligation to be managed, not an opportunity to be seized, and we see it as an opportunity to be seized.

“We’ve obviously got the obligations, but there are huge opportunities here.

“When you think about the jobs we can generate in home insulation, when you think about the jobs you can generate in wind turbine manufacturing, but we haven’t done it as a country.”

He said Labour had a “proper industrial strategy to do it” with subsidies for firms to locate in the UK.

Mr Miliband set out the need for a massive expansion of community renewable energy schemes as part of Labour’s plan to end the use of fossil fuels in electricity production.

He said that would save consumers money and end the influence leaders like Vladimir Putin have on global prices which feed through to bills.

“The only route to energy security in the modern world is through zero carbon power, homegrown zero carbon power.

“That is the way you get out of these problems.

“Otherwise, you’re held hostage by dictators, petrostates and others.”

The Government defended its approach to energy efficiency measures despite the taskforce being wound up.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We would like to thank the energy efficiency taskforce for its work in supporting our ambition to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030.

“We have invested £6.6 billion in energy efficiency upgrades this Parliament and will continue to support families in making their homes more efficient, helping them to cut bills while also achieving net zero in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way.”

But Mr Miliband said: “Every family is paying the price in higher energy bills due to 13 years of Tory failure on insulating homes.”

He said closing the taskforce was “another shortsighted decision that will cost families money”.

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