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Conservative leadership hopes fall short of net zero plans, according to think tank

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News Politics: Despite the obvious need for policies that would reduce consumer costs as well as carbon, a right-leaning thinktank has warned that the two Conservative leadership contenders are failing to make the promises necessary to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. According to Onward’s suggestions, insulating Britain’s draughty homes would cost the government just over £1 billion annually in grants and subsidised loans, while a 50% reduction in stamp duty may persuade people to install low-carbon heat pumps when they move homes.

However, while both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are committed to the UK’s legally binding target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, both want to curtail solar power and onshore windfarms, and support fracking and increased fossil fuel production. While Sunak has promised government support for insulation too, neither has set out a detailed plan on the issue, or on net zero generally.

Ministers could also increase the uptake of electric vehicles and other green technologies through “salary sacrifice” schemes, and reduce the number of car journeys through “nudges” such as personalised public transport plans that inform people of their local public transport timetables and cycle routes.

Alex Luke, author of the Onward report, said it was “natural” that the candidates were focused on immediate issues such as the cost of living crisis, but said the quest for net zero must be “a key priority” for the next prime minister.

Homeowners would save about £20 a month on their bills after the cost of repaying the loans each month at current energy prices, and far more if prices leap again as expected this autumn and next spring.

Luke said a previous attempt to do this, the “green deal” programme introduced under the coalition government but scrapped in 2015, had failed owing to “astronomical” market-based interest rates of more than 10%, which meant people barely saw any overall saving. Onward also suggested that “nudges” could play a key role in changing consumer behaviour, which will be needed to reach net zero. Luke said local authorities could offer personalised transport and commute plans.

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