JERSEY’S government has vowed to plough on with tough climate-change pledges – including banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and small vans from 2030 – as the UK pushes back key targets.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday announced that he was planning to water down a number of green initiatives, including delaying the ban on new carbon-emitting vehicles from 2030 to 2035 and phasing out gas boilers.
The UK government, however, said it remained committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the international Paris Agreement.
Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune, who has responsibility for energy and climate change, yesterday said that Jersey’s government remained committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and was concerned that the climate emergency was ‘playing into party politics rather than thinking about future generations’.
She also made commitments to ‘carry on the with the Carbon Neutral Roadmap as it currently sets out our priorities to reach net zero’.
Deputy Jeune continued: ‘It is a Jersey-focused Carbon Neutral Roadmap, with evidence-based analysis on what our needs are. The UK is a separate jurisdiction in that regard. It is important that we stick to our policies to reduce our emissions.’
While she was unable to rule out changes in future, commenting that ‘flexibility’ was necessary, she said: ‘Any changes would be because of Jersey and what we think is important in a Jersey context. It won’t be impacted by the UK’s decision, although internationally we are linked to bigger targets.
‘For the moment, I am committed to the timetable set out,’ she said. ‘It’s concerning to see that the climate emergency has now become extremely political and short-term and playing into party politics rather than thinking about future generations.’
The government’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap includes a pledge to end the importation and registration of new petrol and diesel cars and small vans from 2030, and will seek to extend this to other categories of vehicle at subsequent dates between 2030 and 2040.
The government also recently announced financial support to cover 35% of the cost of an electric car or van, up to a maximum of £3,500, which can be used on vehicles costing up to £40,000.
Deputy Rob Ward, of Reform Jersey, who successfully brought forward a proposition in 2019 declaring a climate-change emergency, said the Prime Minister’s back-tracking on targets presented a moment when ‘the Island had to make a decision whether we want to be part of the solution or ignore our role in the wider world community’.
He continued: ‘We have an opportunity to lead the way and do it sensibly and bring the community with us. If we lose that now, it’s not going to come back.
‘The climate emergency is not happening because we declared it. We either want to lead the way or be bystanders in the response to this. Economically and socially and morally, it will be massively beneficial for us as an island to avoid the same mistake that they’re making in the UK now.’