Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said she is "proud" of the Conservatives' work on climate change.
While backing Rishi Sunak’s green U-turn, the home secretary said on BBC Breakfast that she’s “incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the last ten years when it comes to the environment”.
Although the Conservatives actually came into power in 2010, 13 years ago, Braverman seemed to be referring back to just 2013.
Suella Braverman, "I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved over the last ten years when it comes to the environment"
Times headline, "Pollution: no river in England is safe for swimming" pic.twitter.com/SQpk76CkiA
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) September 20, 2023
So, here’s a look at all the Conservatives’ eco-action over the last 10 years – starting with Sunak’s last 11 months in office.
The Conservatives noted they narrowly secured a Tory seat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the summer because Labour were pushing to extend a ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) into the constituency – to the frustration of the voters.
This prompted the Tories to turn ULEZ into a wedge policy, even though it was a scheme originally introduced by Boris Johnson.
2. Coal mine and oil field
The government approved the first new coal mine in 30 years last December, even though the UK encouraged other nations to consign the fossil fuel to “history” last year.
Sunak also gave the green light to hundreds of new licences looking to drill for oil in the North Sea.
3. Planning regulations for onshore wind farms
Sunak finally eased regulations for wind turbines earlier this month, after strict rules effectively banned the renewable energy farms in place since 2015.
4. River pollution
Sunak tried to remove the EU-era plan to have a “nutrient neutrality” regime in place for the UK’s rivers, which was meant to reduce substances like phosphates and nitrates getting into our waterways.
But the PM’s bid to boost homebuilding was struck down by the House of Lords last week, after peers slammed it as an act of “environmental vandalism”.
Sunak has been widely criticised for his environmental actions
5. Support for developing countries
Sunak was said to be considering dropping a £11.6 billion fund for countries vulnerable to global warming, although the government later denied this.
6. Sunak on COP27
Shortly after getting into office last year, the PM was not expected to attend the international climate summit in Egypt.
He only said he was going when he realised former PM Johnson was going, but he notably did not attend the French president’s climate and development summit in Paris last month.
7. No climate pledges in Sunak’s five priorities last January
The PM vowed to halve inflation, grow the economy, decrease national debt, cut NHS waiting lists, and stop small boats crossing the Channel.
He did not mention anything about the climate, despite concerns about extreme weather growing with every year.
8. Energy crisis
Sunak was criticised for not using the opportunity of the energy crisis – triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – to promote energy efficiency, such as home insulation.
9. Climate Change Committee
CCC – government’s own climate advisers – said last month it was missing almost every target for achieving net zero.
10. Zac Goldsmith resigned
Goldsmith was the climate minister up until June this year. His resignation note included a brutal stab at government’s “apathy” about the climate crisis.
He accused Sunak of having “withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature” and being “simply uninterested” in the environment.
What about Sunak’s predecessors?
Former UK Prime Ministers Liz Truss, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron during the National Service Of Remembrance last year.
She may not have been in office for very long, but she was known for being anti-renewable energy and pro-fossil fuels. She was against windfall tax on oil and gas majors, and wanted fracking in areas where communities supported it.
She also campaigned to approve of more than 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.
She thought the UK’s net-zero transition should be “pro-business and pro-growth” – and there was a sigh of relief that she wasn’t dropping net zero altogether.
Boris Johnson proudly promoted many green policies during his time in office, but he often U-turned on them.
He promised to spend £640m on planting 30 million trees. Six months before he announced his resignation, campaigners were already warning that the government was far off its target.
He also said he would spend a further £500m Blue Planet fund for protecting the oceans, which is still on the government’s agenda.
In 2015, he scrapped a £1billion scheme to help the UK take a lead in carbon capture and cutting emissions.
He also pushed for the removal of onshore wind farm subsidies, claiming the public was “fed up” with the turbines.
By the time he left office in 2016, he had scrapped the Green Deal scheme – to help households find energy-saving improvements on your home – moved to privatise the Green Investment Bank, while solar energy incentives were cut by 65%.