Campaigners issue Rishi Sunak clear air pollution demands

The UK’s new Tory leader has been in office less than 24 hours and faces a monumental task to win over the public, not least when it comes to environmental policy. 

Green campaigners have issued Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a list of demands aimed at helping tackle the climate crisis and, in turn, Britain’s persistent air pollution problem within hours of him taking office.  

These include more investment in renewable energy resources, and the rejection of any proposals for expensive and polluting fossil fuel developments – including fracking, the construction of a new coal mine in Cumbria, and North Sea oil and gas projects.

photo of black metal framed glass street post near gray concrete building during daytime

Elsewhere, the country’s fifth resident government leader in six years has been asked to produce a revised, lawful Net Zero strategy, after the previous incarnation was found to be illegal, a ruling Downing Street has decided not to appeal. Finally, the restoration of nature and genuine biodiversity should also be a priority. The demands were made by Friends of the Earth UK. 

Although many of these ideas relate to the climate crisis as a whole, it is now widely understood air pollution cannot be successfully addressed as a separate issue. All proposals laid out in the new demands would directly impact on ambient pollution, for example through reducing toxic gas and particulate matter emissions associated with fossil fuel sourcing and refining, and transport, and by increasing the amount of canopy cover through the restoration of healthy forests, meaning those that provide a home for varied tree species – essential for these projects to deliver effective capture and storage of carbon. 

‘Rishi Sunak has pledged he’ll deliver on the government’s climate targets. Yet his track record as Chancellor – which saw new North Sea oil and gas fast-tracked, levies for domestic flights cut and a weak windfall tax on profiting fossil fuel companies imposed – suggests otherwise,’ said Friends of the Earth campaigner, Kierra Box. ‘He also backed fracking with community consent during the summer leadership race, but this proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Liz Truss’ premiership. If Rishi Sunak plans to outlast his predecessor, he must learn from her mistakes, abandon runaway deregulation and the attack on nature and choose the sensible solutions to the cost of living and climate crises.’

Image: Jordhan Madec


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