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What would ditching the UK’s climate policies mean? 

Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.

As thousands flee raging fires in Greece, Europe hits some of its highest temperatures on record, and the world looks set to face the hottest month we know, some are – quite incredibly – skeptical about the merits of policies to help reduce carbon emissions. Yesterday, Lord Frost told the House of Lords he believed rising temperatures were “likely to be beneficial” for Britain because more people die of cold than heat in this country (never mind that heat-related deaths are on the rise, particularly in Europe). Despite the fact that today, climate experts are warning that the 40C heat seen in Britain last year would not be possible without climate change, and that the country is underprepared for the havoc those weather changes will bring, some Tories are calling for Rishi Sunak to delay climate pledges. This partly comes in the wake of the narrow by-election results in Uxbridge, which many believe were down to opposition against the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, otherwise known as the Ulez scheme. The PM is also said to be considering watering down green policies due to the cost-of-living crisis, amid fresh fears they could be electorally damaging. Mr Sunak has already come under fire for reportedly reversing on his £11.6bn climate pledge. What else might the government do, and what would it mean? We’ll take a look after the headlines.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

Angry Tory MPs have hit out at Michael Gove’s plans to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in UK cities, branding them “dead on arrival”. The Housing Secretary spelled out the Government’s planning reforms on Monday, claiming they would reach the manifesto commitment to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. Can the Government do it? Here, the manifesto pledge is fact-checked.

Britons on one of the first repatriation flights from Rhodes have described a terrifying escape in the dark, smoky night as a wildfire chased them south through the Greek island. Jake Nurse, 27, from Southampton, was holidaying in Kiotari, in Rhodes with his partner. “The fire has been chasing us the whole time” he told i.

Airlines and tour operators have been branded “irresponsible” for continuing to fly Britons out to fire-ravaged resorts on Greek islands where close to 20,000 people have been forced to flee. Campaigners said travel firms had failed holidaymakers after sending flights over the weekend without offering refunds or the chance to re-book.

Repatriation flights from the inferno on Rhodes are landing back in the UK with empty seats, i can reveal, as British holidaymakers complain that they have struggled to get off the Greek island. Images obtained by i show an EasyJet flight with several empty seats, which one passenger said was “less than half full”, while Jet2 admitted its first repatriation mission carried less than half of the capacity for its next evacuations flights.

A 30-year-old former adviser to Boris Johnson has officially become the youngest peer in the House of Lords after she took up her seat in the unelected second chamber on Monday. Charlotte Owen, who will now sit as a life peer, will be known as Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge and will sit on the Conservative benches.

Three key questions on the government’s green pledges:

Which policies could be diluted? Some Tories are urging Rishi Sunak to abandon the net zero pledge, which is enshrined in law. Earlier this week, a government spokesman insisted the UK is a “world leader on net zero” but said ministers would “always look to protect consumers from any rising costs”. Michael Gove on Sunday also warned against making tackling climate change “a religious crusade”. Banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars, which is due to come in after 2030, and proposals to force landlords to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, are among the policies some Tories appear to want to review. Mr Gove said the Government is “asking too much too quickly” of landlords, while Lord Frost has urged the Government to “rethink” the deadline on cars. Read the full list of green policies that could be watered down here.

What do the polls actually say? Polling consistently shows public support for net zero – although there are concerns about some of the potentially costly measures required to meet the target. One year ago, an Ipsos poll found that half of Brits actually wanted to bring the net zero targets forward, with 85% concerned about the effects of climate change. A survey of just over 2,000 British adults, carried out in April by YouGov, found 71 per cent of the public support new onshore wind farms in their local area. Somewhat worryingly, however, a survey of Tory MPs earlier this month found some 40% of them believed climate change could be stopped without the UK hitting net zero emissions, prompting one expert to say it was “deeply troubling that any MP would have the basics of climate science so wrong”.

What would changing current policies mean? One policy at the heart of the current debate – Ulez – is not actually a climate policy, i‘s Daniel Capurro reports. Although some of the debate and discussion around it has included shifting people onto other forms of transport, the main aim of clean air policies such as Ulez is simply to get people to drive cleaner cars, not to ditch them altogether. However, scrapping or delaying other policies could have a significant impact. Failing to speed the transition to electric vehicles would severely hamper the UK’s ability to hit its 2050 climate targets, with forecasts saying that 43 per cent of UK vehicles will need to be electric by 2030 for net zero to be achievable. Relaxing the 2030 pledge would not only kick that problem down the road, it would lock in higher emissions for longer. Experts also say scrapping green policies such as these make little economic sense. Read the full report here.

A wildfire near the village of Vlyhada near Athens (Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty)

Around the world

Israeli MPs have passed a highly controversial bill on the judiciary into law despite some of the biggest protests in the country’s history. The law removes the power of the Supreme Court to overrule government actions it considers unreasonable.

The unmanned aerial vehicles that damaged buildings in Moscow on Monday may have been “beaver” drones launched from within Russia’s borders, according to researchers. The Kremlin warned of taking “harsh retaliatory measures” against Ukraine after the attack on Moscow, but open source intelligence social media accounts suggested the assault could have come from closer to home.

A tech mogul and pro gamer who provided surveillance services for the Kremlin has become the latest Russian tycoon to die in mysterious circumstances since the invasion of Ukraine. Anton Andreyevich Cherepennikov, 40, was found dead in his Moscow office with the preliminary cause of death given as a cardiac arrest. Russian media reported a police source claiming that he was killed by overdosing on “medical gas”.

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have paid tribute to their personal chef as a “beloved part of our family” after he drowned near the family’s home at Martha’s Vineyard. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that the paddle boarder whose body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond was 45-year-old Tafari Campbell.

A 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and driven more than 1,000 miles from her home in Texas has been rescued after she grabbed an opportunity to write “Help me” on a scrap of paper and held it to the car window, alerting a passer-by.

Italy’s Eternal City and its rural villages are being invaded by dangerous reptiles, killer bees and biting turtles, causing panic among locals. Who are they calling? Andrea Lunerti, a 55-year-old ethologist who has been dubbed Italy’s Crocodile Dundee.

Watch out for…

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace and Uplift, who are bringin a High Court challenge against a new round of North Sea oil and gas licensing, arguing it flies against the UK’s climate goals. 

Thoughts for the day

The Labour Party is squabbling again – and it’s the Greens who will benefit. This panicking political retreat will only come back to bite Labour, argues Andrew Fisher.

The horror of a miscarriage is made so much worse by what happens next. The Government has pledged to provide better support for women who experience pregnancy loss, writes Rebecca Reid.

George Alagiah told me he didn’t want to be defined by cancer – and he wasn’t. The BBC newsreader and novelist, who has died at the age of 67, lived a life full of resilience and mettle, says Nick Duerden.

British newsreader, journalist and television news presenter George Alagiah at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 (Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)

Culture Break

Margot Robbie is far more subversive than ‘the hottest blonde ever’. That’s why she’s a perfect Barbie. Charismatic, laid-back and not afraid of anything – this is the actress of a generation, says Emily Bootle.

Margot Robbie at the World Premiere of Barbie (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The Big Read

How the Tory right captures headlines, but struggles to make an impact. All parties have their noisy factions but unlike Labour the Conservatives have no formal mechanism for dealing with them, writes Marie Le Conte.

(UK Parliament, Getty, PA) Top row from left: Jacob Rees-Mogg, Suella Braverman, Dany Kruger Bottom row from left: Miriam Cates, Lee Anderson, Nadine Dorries


Canada’s Cloe Lacasse on why Arsenal was a ‘dream’ move – and a necessity. Arsenal’s new signing tells i’s Katherine Lucas about joining an attack of Russo, Mead and Miedema, the challengers facing female Canadian players, and her ‘humble’ teammates’ World Cup dream.

‘I joined Arsenal to play with Mead, Miedema and Russo – I wanted competition’ (Photo: Getty)

 Something to brighten your day

School children have sent drawings to young refugees after the Government order removal of murals at asylum centres. Ophelia, aged eight, said: “It made me feel really sad and angry, because some people in the world aren’t being very nice to them, and I think they should be welcomed everywhere.”

Pupils from St Gerard’s Catholic Primary School in Birmingham posing with their hand-drawn pictures. (Photo: Caitlin Nash/PA Wire)

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