Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson resorting to moral blackmail on green policies’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press


Philip Johnston in The Telegraph

Boris is courting political disaster by trying to guilt us into going green

on footing the bill

“A slow-motion political car crash” is “unfolding before our very eyes” by way of the prime minister’s plans to reach net zero, says Philip Johnston in The Telegraph. The government must “bring the country along with it” given the “enormous costs and implications” of the newly published strategy. Instead, Boris Johnson is “resorting to moral blackmail”, writes Johnston. “The fact that the Industrial Revolution made us wealthy obliges us to make amends”, and while “self-flagellation may go down well among the zealots of environmentalism”, Johnston wishes the PM “luck turning it into a political slogan”. The plans outlined yesterday made clear “this is all going to be extremely costly” and the public will be paying the bill.


Rafael Behr in The Guardian

It’s Tory Rebels, not Boris Johnson, who will set the pace on Britain’s road to net zero

on mood swings

The prime minister is a recent convert to the “global crusade against carbon”, writes Rafael Behr in The Guardian. A “newly acquired belief is not necessarily insincere”, but “sincerity is the wrong test to apply to a man who believes things while he is saying them but adapts what he is saying to suit the audience”. What matters more is the “forces that might hold him to the cause or prise him away” from his new-found climate concern, and above all the PM’s “political self-interest”. “The mood in the Conservative party changes more often and more violently than scientific consensus”, Behr says. Ultimately, Johnson “knows which is his true master”.


Ed Davey on The i news site

Boris Johnson’s energy strategy leaves all the difficult decisions to future governments and future generations

on big headlines and bad plans

The government’s energy strategy is characteristic of Johnson’s policies, says Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey on The i news site: there’s “not enough money and not enough radicalism”. The “piecemeal announcements” made yesterday have left “all the difficult decisions” for future leaders and generations to take on. “The government needs to be ambitious and drive systemic change”, says Davey. The announcement of £5,000 subsidies to help homeowners with the cost of installing heat pumps “will do nothing alone”. Downing Street is “delaying the inevitable” when investment is urgently needed to “better insulate our homes, cut emissions and end fuel poverty”, he adds. When it comes to protecting the future of the planet, the Conservatives “either don’t understand, or worse, don’t care”.


Alastair Wilcox in The Herald

We need to urgently talk about Net Zero

on unanswered questions

“The beginning of the end of our love affair with burning fossil gas in our homes and buildings is definitely here”, writes Alastair Wilcox in The Herald. It brings with it “some perfectly valid questions”. Gas central heating has for a long time been considered a “route out of fuel poverty” for many households, but if that alternative is no longer available, “what is the help for such people going to look like?”, asks Wilcox. No one should be “left behind by the changes that lie ahead”, and while a “huge amount of work” is already under way, “much” remains unresolved. Empowering communities to “meaningfully participate” in decisions that will impact “every facet of their lives” is as necessary as acquiring the funding to make the net zero plans a reality. “A proper, sustained attempt at public engagement” is what’s needed, says Wilcox.


Eleanor Salter in The New York Times

Boris Johnson is playing another trick

on climate hypocrisy

Apprehension is in the air ahead of Cop26 but the “mood seems not to affect” Johnson and his “bombastic optimism” that countries will together rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, writes Eleanor Salter in The New York Times. Don’t “fall for the trick” of the prime minister’s claims that UK is a world leader in the environmental arena when it is “far from a climate hero”. There’s “hypocrisy everywhere” and “blatant double standards”, writes Salter. Against the wishes and warnings of Holyrood, “Westminster is poised to approve 18 new oil and gas projects in the North Sea”. From airport expansions to new coal mines, “the list of sins is long”, she adds. “Whatever happens in Glasgow, the storm is no longer gathering. It is overhead.”


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