Rishi Sunak needs to realise that net-zero technologies can help reduce the cost of living – Christine Jardine

A major programme of home insulation would help cut people’s energy bills

You could feel the first hints of the coming winter in the air this weekend. As someone who loves the preceding autumn colours, the comforting warmth of winter clothes and the anticipation of the festive season that would normally be a reason to be cheerful.

But not this year. The juxtaposition of the height of summer temperatures at a time when mince pies are beginning to appear in the shops is stark. Similarly the contrast between the argument raging over whether Rishi Sunak is backing out of net-zero commitments, while others are concerned with a problem much closer to home is compelling.

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Yes, the need to ward off climate chaos becomes clearer with every news story of unprecedented flooding and fires across the globe. Sadly, it’s not the only problem that needs immediate attention. The more pressing combination of winter weather, the continuing cost-of-living crisis and lack of government support is a recipe for more misery for so many families and pensioners.

Businesses too are feeling the impact of a year of climbing inflation and interest rates which has followed Liz Truss’s trashing of the economy. Keeping warm, fed and solvent is a widespread challenge.

It goes without saying the Prime Minister’s decision to let net-zero target dates slip and adopt a wishy-washy approach to previously firm commitments should sound alarm bells. But so too should his lack of action on winter fuel bills.

Even if these climate-lite actions and subsequent hints at a move away from the A-level system in England are the starting pistol for the general election, he has surely picked the wrong horse for the race. Or at least one with only some of the stamina needed. Before anyone is persuaded to give this allegedly talented economic whizz kid a second thought in a general election, he has to show more of an understanding of voters’ problems.

Where are the insulation programmes which would help us keep our homes warm, and coincidentally reduce carbon emissions? The Prime Minister dismisses them as expensive – which they are not – and completely ignores the fact they would both save money on fuel bills and cut down emissions.

He doesn't like compulsory car sharing – who does and where is that legislation? I have certainly never seen it. And having seven compulsory bins is a nonsense. If the Prime Minister has seven recycling bins, he is either doing it wrong or his council is playing a joke on him. Maybe both.

Where is the support for creating liquid hydrogen storage to provide power when there is little daylight and the winds don't blow? Or exploitation of the supremely reliable tidal power sources. Oh, I know he’s championing the building of nuclear stations but for those of us with memories of Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island that isn't really a comfort, especially when there are other options available to us.

So I understand and sympathise with those who say this government is letting us down on the climate. Because they are. If they continue to let us down closer to home, their forecast will be bleak.

Christine Jardine is the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West



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