Forcing people to give up what they like is not route to net zero, says Sunak at PMQs

Believes new innovations, such as sustainable aviation fuel, will help bring down emissions in the future

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 13, 2023. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA Wire
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Rishi Sunak has said that telling people to 'give up what they like' is not the route to achieving net zero emissions.

Speaking at prime ministers' questions, Mr Sunak appeared to back the expansion of the UK's aviation industry, despite its heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Reports suggest he will overrule his climate advisers and allow the expansion of Luton and Stansted airports, both of which are set to massively grow their capacity in the coming years.

Mr Sunak is under pressure to meet the UK's climate pledges while also trying to boost the UK's economic growth.

Questioned on the environment by Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper, the prime minister said that people should not need to "give up" the things they enjoy to reach net zero targets.

Instead, he said new innovations, such as sustainable aviation fuel, would help bring down emissions in the future.

"My approach to getting to net zero is not one that requires people to give up doing the things that they want to do and enjoy," he told MPs.

"The right thing to do is to invest in new technologies and funding things like sustainable aviation fuel, because that's how we'll decarbonise aviation and the transition to net zero, not force people to give everything up".

It comes after Mr Sunak was urged to do more than “just turn up” when he attends the Cop28 summit taking place in the UAE later this year.

Downing Street confirmed that Mr Sunak would attend the meeting in Dubai on November 30, amid accusations that he was not taking climate change pledges seriously enough.

Last year, Mr Sunak initially said he would not attend the Cop27 summit, held in Egypt, but was subsequently forced into an embarrassing last-minute about-turn.

During PMQs, Mr Sunak was branded “Inaction Man” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, as the government grapples with crumbling schools, Chinese espionage, and a prisoner on the run.

Sir Keir urged the Prime Minister to call a general election, as he accused the government of failing to heed warnings which led to a series of crises for ministers over the last week.

In recent weeks, Mr Sunak has had to deal with the escape of former solider Daniel Khalife from Wandsworth Prison, crumbling concrete in school buildings, and reports of Chinese espionage in Westminster.

He was also challenged on his backing of the so-called triple-lock pension which guarantees an increase of the state pension in line with average earnings, inflation or whichever is highest.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 2:41 PM