Treasury net zero review ‘delayed amid cost fears’

A key Treasury review into the cost of achieving the government’s flagship net zero goal has been delayed over fears that it will show that the policy will hit working class families hardest, according to reports.

A Treasury review of the costs associated with reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 was due for spring 2021, but has yet to emerge.

The push to achieve the 2050 goal is set to involve policies such as removing gas boilers from homes and enforcing a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, and has recently been beset by rumours of Tory backbench disquiet and reports of rising tensions between chancellor Rishi Sunak and the prime minister Boris Johnson. 

The government’s much-anticipated Hydrogen Strategy, which was rumoured to be published last week, has also failed to emerge.

According to the Sunday Telegraph report, Johnson believes if early adopters of new technologies such as hydrogen boilers and electric cars can be encouraged, then prices will eventually fall. 

Sunak is said to agree on the need to bring down the cost of new technologies, but wants the private sector to “do most of the heavy lifting”, the report said. 

Reports of the tensions between the chancellor and prime minister come as a new Tory backbench group seeks to question the Westminster “consensus” on the urgency and cost of meeting decarbonisation targets by 2050.

READ MORE: Tory backbench ‘cost of net zero’ group: 7 things you need to know

Craig Mackinlay, MP for Thanet in Kent, is set to lead the new group, and is quoted by the Telegraph welcoming the Treasury’s reported caution over the net zero strategy.

He told the newspaper: “I’m very pleased the Treasury are actually thinking of this with a financial head on rather than just a warm feeling.”

“The Conservatives’ strongest hand has always been credibility: credibility to deliver good economics and good governance”, he continued, adding that “to ape the failed policies” of Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 election “does not seem to be the way of electoral success”.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, is also reported to be a key player in the new backbench group. He recently became a trustee of Lord Lawson’s prominent climate sceptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and is a major figure in the influential Conservative backbench European Reform Group.