Rishi Sunak appears set to water down some of the Government’s net zero pledges in a move that has drawn sharp criticism from across the political spectrum and campaigners.

The Prime Minister confirmed he will make a speech this week to “set out an important long-term decision”, following reports that he would use one to row back on green targets.

It is expected he will weaken the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 and delay the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars – currently due in 2030 – by five years.

Mr Sunak said on Tuesday that the Government remains committed to the target of net zero emissions by 2050, but will achieve it “in a better, more proportionate way”.

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Mr Sunak, who is attempting to draw a dividing line with Labour before the next general election, previously sought to position himself as the bringer of “real change” who would “put the long-term interests of our country before the short-term political needs of the moment”.

The Prime Minister insisted the Government is not “losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments”, but looks set to renege on a host of policies put in place by Conservative governments to hit the net zero goal.

The prospect of a major shift in the Conservatives’ approach to green policy was quickly condemned by senior figures in the party.

Former Cop26 president Sir Alok Sharma warned that “for any party to resile from this (climate action) agenda will not help economically or electorally”.

Tory former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke tweeted that “it is in our environmental, economic, moral and (yes) political interests as @Conservatives to make sure we lead on this issue rather than disown it”.

But Chris Skidmore, a Conservative former energy minister who has become increasingly outspoken on net zero, said: “If this is true, the decision will cost the UK jobs, inward investment, and future economic growth that could have been ours by committing to the industries of the future.

“It will potentially destabilise thousands of jobs and see investment go elsewhere. And ultimately the people who will pay the price for this will be householders whose bills will remain higher as a result of inefficient fossil fuels and being dependent on volatile international fossil fuel prices."