Oliver Dowden has made the clearest indication yet that the government is looking to renege on its Cop26 promises – less than six months since the UK-hosted event wrapped up.
Echoing Boris Johnson’s cautionary warnings that the UK may need to ramp up domestic gas production, the Tory chairman stressed the need for increased energy independence to counter Russia and curb rising energy costs.
He said there is a need for “new oil and gas exploration” while greener forms of energy are developed.
“It falls to the Conservatives to deliver energy independence for the first time in a generation, phasing out the import of Russian oil by the end of the year and exploring options to end our import of Russian gas,” he said.
“Of course, that means investing massively in our offshore wind capacity and other renewables, but it must also mean developing new nuclear projects and re-incentivising new oil and gas exploration in this country as we transition – because the British people want to see a bit of conservative pragmatism, not net zero dogma.
“We are Conservatives. We exist to conserve. We will get to net zero. We will save the planet.
“We just don’t want (Russian President) Vladimir Putin taking it over while we are doing it.”
Net Zero referendum
Nigel Farage has set out to campaign for a referendum on the government’s net zero plans.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “I am launching a new campaign to kill of Boris Johnson’s ruinous green agenda.”
A rally fronted by the former Brexit Party leader was cancelled by Bolton Wanderers following fan backlash.
The ‘Voter Power Not Poverty’ event was set to be held at the University of Bolton Stadium later this month.
According to the campaign’s official website, their “aim is simple”.
“We are demanding a referendum on the life-changing Net Zero plans forced upon us by Westminster politicians. We want the British people to have a say, both on our energy future and on Britain’s energy security.”
Next Brexit in sight?
Conservative rebels including former European Research Group chair Steve Baker are behind a new ‘Net Zero Scrutiny Group’ (NZSG) who have put the blame of the cost-of-living crisis at the doorstep of the government’s green policies.
They say, like Farage, that the government is going too hard to fast in moving to fix the planet, with the costs falling on the shoulders of the least well off.
Using the hashtag #CostofNetZero, members associated with the group have been making interventions across the media, echoing tactics learned from Brexit.
The response to the moves has been a familiar one, with people labelling them ‘climate change deniers’, ‘propagandists’ and ‘lunatics’. But as Ben Wright recently pointed out in the Telegraph, to treat them in such a way would be to repeat the mistakes made in 2016.