Chris Stark Warns UK Falling Behind on Climate Goals as Sunak Faces Criticism

Amid rising cost-of-living worries and with the Labour Party leading in polls ahead of this year's election, Sunak has drawn ire from environmentalists.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing criticism for allegedly causing the UK to lag in its climate change efforts, especially concerning heating and industrial emissions.

Chris Stark, the outgoing chief executive of the independent Climate Change Committee, expressed concerns in a BBC interview set to air on Sunday.

Stark, who is departing his role next week, indicated that the country’s climate policy ambitions have diminished, remarking, “That is extremely hard to recover,” and adding, “I think it’s set us back.”

Amid rising cost-of-living worries and with the Labour Party leading in polls ahead of this year’s election, Sunak has drawn ire from environmentalists.

Critics accuse him of diluting several initiatives aimed at achieving net zero emissions.

Defending his stance, Sunak argues that postponing targets for transitioning to greener cars and domestic heating systems are practical choices necessary to secure public support.

He maintains that the UK’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 remains firm.

Stark, who has led the committee since April 2018 and is set to join the Carbon Trust as chief executive later this year, emphasized the need for the UK to intensify efforts in managing home heating, industrial emissions, and enhancing the farming and transport sectors.

He expressed a strong sense of urgency, saying, “I definitely feel we’re at risk.”

In response to Stark’s critique, a government spokesperson defended the UK’s environmental achievements, noting that Britain was the first major economy to halve its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

The spokesperson highlighted that the country has legislated one of the most ambitious climate targets for 2035.

They explained, “But we need to reach our net zero goals in a sustainable way so we have taken action to protect our energy security, ease the burdens on hard-working people and provide transparency about the choices involved so that we bring people with us in meeting our climate targets.”

This response underscores the government’s strategy to balance ambitious climate goals with practical and socio-economic considerations.