Tory chair slammed after taking aim at ‘net zero dogma’ in favour of ‘domestic oil and gas’

'Dowden signals an end to ‘net zero dogma’ – less than 6 months on from Cop26'

Oliver Dowden

Tory Chair Oliver Dowden has come in for some heavy criticism, after saying that the government would show some ‘pragmatism’ and step back from ‘net zero dogma’, in favour of domestic oil and gas production, just months after the UK hosted the COP26 climate summit.

Dowden made the comments during Tory spring conference, where he told the audience: “So it falls to the Conservatives to deliver energy independence for the first time in a generation. Phasing out the import of Russian oil by the end of the year, exploring options to end our import of Russian gas.

“Of course that means investing massively in our offshore wind capacity and other renewables; but it must also mean developing new nuclear projects, and re-incentivising new oil and gas exploration in this country as we transition.

“Because the British people want to see a bit of conservative pragmatism, not net zero dogma. We are conservatives. We exist to conserve. We will get to net zero. We will save the planet. We just don’t want Vladimir Putin taking it over while we are doing it.”

The remarks by Dowden are the clearest indication yet that the Tory party is looking to row back on the pledges it made during COP26.

It comes amid a sustained attack on Net Zero, including from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage who is pushing for a referendum on the issue.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “I am launching a new campaign to kill of Boris Johnson’s ruinous green agenda.”

Responding to Dowden’s speech, one social media user wrote: “Oliver Dowden tells Tory spring conference: “Do you know what? I really think the British people want to see a bit more Conservative pragmatism, and a bit less net zero dogma”.

“You would never have guessed COP26 was less than six months ago.”

Another wrote: “Dowden signals an end to ‘net zero dogma’ – less than 6 months on from Cop26

“Remember Johnson, a few months ago in Glasgow, revelling in his new found Eco Principles? Guess what. He was lying.  It was not about the saving humanity but short-term popularity.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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