Manufacturing groups in the UK have criticized Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to weaken net-zero emission targets, describing it as a setback for the sector. In a letter to the Financial Times, leaders of 15 manufacturers’ trade bodies, including Make UK and the Chemical Industries Association, expressed concern that the move signaled a regression rather than progress. Sunak’s U-turns, which included pushing back the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales and diluting the phaseout of fossil fuel boilers, triggered backlash from his own Conservative party and environmental campaigners.
The industry groups highlighted that the government’s decision to water down net-zero policies would particularly impact small and medium-sized enterprises in the automotive supply chain. They also criticized the uncertainty created by the change in targets, warning that it risked damaging the UK’s international competitiveness. The groups called for a long-term industrial strategy that encourages innovation and survives short-term political cycles to ensure stability and confidence for manufacturers. However, not all businesses opposed the changes, with carmaker Toyota welcoming the move and Jaguar Land Rover describing the delay as “pragmatic.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) also joined the criticism, stating that advanced economies should increase their ambition on climate action. The IEA published a report emphasizing the need for global investment in clean energy to reach $4.5tn per year by the early 2030s to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The report stated that clean energy industries would create jobs and economic opportunities and urged countries to position themselves early to take advantage of these benefits.