Rishi Sunak has a “damn nerve” to claim delays to key climate pledges were for the benefit of households, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.
Mr Harvie, who is zero carbon buildings minister for the Scottish Government, said the Prime Minister’s pledge to delay the ban on sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by five years – to 2035 – will have a knock-on effect on Scotland’s net zero ambitions.
Last week, Mr Sunak also weakened the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 to require households struggling the most to refrain from the change, with Scottish ministers now “urgently” assessing how the news will impact targets north of the border.
The Prime Minister said the moves were made to prevent the cost burden being placed on ordinary families.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Mr Harvie said the announcement was “profoundly worrying” and deeply irresponsible” as he condemned the lack of communication with devolved administrations.
“Some of the irresponsibility of this is about their unwillingness even to talk to Scottish or Welsh governments in advance,” he said.
“We’ve been trying (to work together) and yet at the last minute you get this bizarre announcement saying we’re going to put a wrecking ball through a lot of the existing climate commitments. There’s a problem with leadership here.”
He said the plans will have a “direct impact” on Scottish climate targets but that it would not “change our determination to go as far as we can”, although “it does make a lot of this really, really difficult”.
His comments come as Scottish Tory figures showed the Scottish Government’s target to install 30,000 electric car-charging stations could be missed by 12 years, with the party urging the Scottish Government to follow in the footsteps of the Prime Minister.
Figures revealed by the Tories from ChargePlace Scotland showed just 169 chargers had been added between October 2022 and August 2023.
Scottish Government figures estimated there were almost 4,000 charging points as of June 2023, with the Tories estimating it could be 2042 before the target is reached.
Mr Harvie told the BBC programme businesses would be put off investing in the required infrastructure because of Mr Sunak’s comments, saying: “I think they’ve got a damn nerve, to be honest.
“What we need if we’re going to see not just public charging points, which we have been rolling out, but you need all sorts of other organisations to start installing their own charging points as well.
“Without that sense of when policy changes are coming, when regulatory changes are coming, why would they bother investing in the UK given that lack of clarity?”
Transport Scotland said £65 million had been invested in the electric charging network since 2011, where Scotland had the greatest number of rapid or ultra-rapid charging points per head of population outside of London.
A spokesperson said: “In addition to funding over 2,600 charge points on the public CPS network, the Scottish Government has increased charging capacity across Scotland by also funding the installation of over 20,000 home and workplace charge points.
“Last year ministers also introduced legislation requiring car parks of new buildings to install charge points.
“To meet Scotland’s statutory climate change targets, the pace and scale of investment in the public network will need to increase over the coming years and it will be unsustainable for the public sector to deliver this alone.”
The UK Government has been approached for comment.