Sunak brought forward his speech on the government’s net zero plan after the BBC revealed that he was planning to water down policies.
Speaking today, the Prime Minister said the current plans meant homeowners would need to make expensive changes in just two years and people renting would be impacted by the costs through rental rises.
It was initially proposed that landlords should improve the EPC rating of privately rented homes to a minimum of C by 2028, with new tenancies expected to meet a shorter deadline of 2025. No policy was suggested for owner occupiers, but it was expected that a similar requirement would be introduced.
He said while the government would continue to subsidise people who want to make their homes more efficient, it would “never force any household to do it”.
Sunak said the government would also give people “far more time” to make the transition to heat pumps.
He said, without an extension, support would collapse as the technology was still new and too expensive.
Sunak said the government would “never force anyone” to rip out their boilers to replace them with heat pumps until they were already preparing a replacement. The requirement to do so will only apply from 2035.
He said for people who would have the hardest time making the transition, an exemption would be introduced “so that they will never have to switch at all”.
He said instead of banning boilers before people can afford it, Sunak said they will be supported by increasing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant by 50 per cent to £7,500.
Sunak said improvements to homes would result in “significant costs” on working people and suggested that it may not be necessary to impose these rules to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions as this was already reducing. He said the UK’s share of global emissions was less than one per cent so it was not fair to ask people to “sacrifice more than others”.
‘Sensible green leadership’
He said the country needed “sensible green leadership”.
He continued that the former policies would “risk losing the consent of British people” meaning “we might never achieve our goal” and that “the current debate on net zero would impose costs on British families and his new approach would “ease the burdens on working people”.
He added that most people wanted to do the right thing regarding net zero, but that it was unfair for the government to force this onto households. However, he concluded that he was not abandoning any targets or commitments.