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Kemi Badenoch says reaching net zero 2050 target must not ‘bankrupt the country’ | Politics News

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has suggested she would be in favour of watering down the UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

It comes just over a week after Rishi Sunak diluted another set of green policies – including pushing back the ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.

Ms Badenoch – who broke through a crowded field to finish fourth in last year’s Conservative leadership contest – was vocal in defending Mr Sunak’s decision last week.

Reaching net zero by 2050 was passed into law in 2019 by the Conservatives under Theresa May. Mr Sunak recommitted to the target last week.

But speaking tonight to The Sunday Times, Ms Badenoch said: “We still have the ambition to get to net zero by 2050, but we have to remember that we are only 1% of world emissions.

“If we bankrupt ourselves trying to get there, we won’t achieve net zero. We will also be in a worse position in terms of tackling climate change.

“So the target helps us focus – but actually it’s looking at how we’re doing so in a sustainable way that is so critical.”

She added: “We want to do it in such a way that everybody feels they gave consent for this and that it was not on the backs of the poorest in society, and not in a way that damages the country.”

The business and trade secretary’s intervention comes following Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s speech earlier this week – which many saw as a pitch at the Conservative leadership.

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Last week: Net zero roll back is ‘not a cynical ploy’

Ms Braverman argued for a change in the way the global asylum system worked, as it has led to too many people arriving in the West. She said the 1951 Refugee Convention needs to be changed, or the UK should withdraw from it.

Following suit, Ms Badenoch said: “People present this argument as being something that’s very extreme, but… even in legal circles, a point that they make is that this convention needs updating, it needs reviewing, and we should certainly make sure that we’re able to have an honest conversation [about it].

“That debate has not properly happened yet and I think it’s right that the home secretary is trying to start one.”

She added: “It’s certainly not racist to talk about reviewing conventions we joined 100 years ago. I think that’s a ridiculous argument.”

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Speaking on another controversial policy within the Conservatives – whether the HS2 leg between Birmingham and Manchester should go ahead – the business and trade secretary said: “I’m going to be very honest: business has not raised it with me at all,” she said.

“Certainly not UK-based businesses. There are some international businesses who’ve asked about investment there, because it might impact decisions that they’re going to make.

“But everybody understands these projects are huge amounts of money and there’s an element of risk in going forwards if the economics of them change.”

Following the speculation about a potential change in the HS2 route, Alex Veitch, director of policy and insights at the British Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Increased speculation about further possible delays or changes to HS2 will start alarm bells ringing and raise fears that key links are in jeopardy.

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“It is an essential project to boost the future prosperity of our regional economies and improve the speed and capacity of our national transport infrastructure. 

“If the government further reneges on its plans for HS2, then it will shatter business confidence, both in the UK and among overseas investors, in its ability to see large scale construction infrastructure projects through.”

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