Rishi Sunak admitted he is unable to put a “precise figure” on how much it will the transition to a net zero economy will cost UK taxpayers.
It comes as government advisory body the Climate Change Committee and former chancellor Philip Hammond estimated it would cost £1.4 trillion.
But speaking to BBC’s Andrew Marr, the current Tory chancellor said: “It’s very difficult to put a single figure on something that’s going to happen over the 30 years, three decades, during which lots of things are going to change, not least the cost of many of these technologies.
“So you know, I can’t reduce it to one single figure.”
Despite being unable to share a figure, Sunak claimed the upcoming Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow will be a “success”, “particularly on the finance side, which I’m responsible for”.
What Labour thinks
Labour’s Rachel Reeves told Marr that “the only responsible chancellor at the moment is a green chancellor, to stop the costs building up for future generations to pay.”
She added: “The moral imperative of tackling the climate emergency and the opportunity to create those high-skill, high-productivity jobs in this country.
“You know, the government’s saying we can improve productivity by getting shortages on the shelves. No, I say we improve our productivity by investing in the skills and the jobs of the future, and that more than anything means investing in carbon capture and storage and hydrogen, in gigafactories to build the electric vehicles of the future.
“That’s the way to boost our skills and our productivity.”
This week, Greta Thunberg has accused the UK government of spinning carbon emissions statistics to make it look like the country’s contribution to the climate crisis is lower than it is in reality.
The environmental activist said Britain is not the only high-income country wrongly thinking it is a climate leader, suggesting the US and China are also guilty of the delusion.
In an article for The Guardian, the 18-year-old said world leaders have been guilty of decades of “blah, blah, blah” because of their lack of action on reducing emissions.
Post-Brexit trade revelations ahead of Cop26 climate summit hosted by UK
Last week, it emerged the UK government has been telling its trade negotiators to not let environmental concerns get in the way of post-Brexit deals, according to a leaked document.
The document, signed by the Department for International Trade, suggests the UK shouldn’t refuse a deal if other countries do not mention environmental safeguards in agreements.
The Tories are preparing the UK to host the Cop26 international climate conference in Glasgow at the end of the month, which will see world leaders pursuing a target of limiting any further temperature increase to 1.5C.
The summit will involve calls to accelerate the phasing out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.