Rishi Sunak could delay ban on sale of petrol and diesel cars by five years

Some of Mr Sunak’s backbench MPs have long called for a watering down on green commitments amid the cost-of-living crisis.

A source from the Tory Net Zero Watch group of MPs said: “It’s certainly encouraging news.

“The Government is hopefully grasping that some clear water between Tories and Labour on Net Zero can be very helpful. One of the few hands up its sleeve that it hasn’t played going into the election.

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“Expect big green backlash. If it’s big enough then the package may be watered down but hopefully, they will stick to their guns”

The Prime Minister is understood to be preparing an announcement on the changes in a speech in the coming days.

There is no suggestion that Mr Sunak will abandon the legal commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

But he is expected to declare that other countries need to bear more of the burden of dealing with climate change.

A Government spokesman said: “The Government remains completely committed to its Net Zero commitments, with the UK having cut emissions faster than any other G7 country.

“Our approach will always be pragmatic and ensure costs are not passed onto hard-working families. We will not comment on speculation.”

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss called on Mr Sunak to delay the 2030 ban on diesel and petrol cars in a speech on Monday.

A shift in the Tories’ green policy would establish a clear dividing line with the Labour Party.

Ms Truss, who last year angered green groups with an “attack on nature”, said: “We should – as many other Western countries are already doing – delay implementing Net Zero commitments such as the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030.

“Other environmental regulations which are hiking the cost of living, like enforcing the replacement of gas and oil boilers, should also be abandoned.”

The government could significantly weaken the plan to phase out the installation of gas boilers by 2035, saying that they only want 80 percent to be phased out by that year.

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There was immediate backlash from green groups last night following reports of Mr Sunak’s possible plans

Hilary McGrady, the director general at the National Trust, said: “If rumours are correct this would be a deeply depressing step. From flooding to wildfires, we’re facing the impacts of climate change here and now. We need to step up ambition, not water it down.”

Jordan Lee, nature programme manager at the Conservative Environment Network, warned the Tories “cannot afford” to abandon green pledges ahead of Britons heading to the polls next year.

He said: “With an election imminent this sends all the wrong signals. Conservatives have a proud record on the environment. We need to own it. Polls consistently reflect voters’ preference for environmental ambition. We simply cannot afford to abandon this now.”

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