IT’S an act of desperation, isn’t it? The news that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is going to water down net zero policies, which caused such a scramble in Westminster, is a further signal that this is not a government that deserves to be taken seriously. Rather, it’s one casting around in its death throes to latch onto something, anything, that might help stave off electoral disaster.

And this latest wheeze is the best they can come up with. Prompted by the by-election success in Uxbridge and South Ruislip in July, during which the Tory candidate campaigned on the issue of Ultra Low Emission Zones, the Tories may be about to go all-in on an anti-green agenda.

It’s a short-sighted and frankly stupid notion. There is no real thought behind it. It is purely all about next year’s election. And even the evidence of its efficacy for that is shonky, quite frankly. This summer’s by-election called after the resignation of Boris Johnson saw the Tory majority slashed to under 500 in a seat that has been held by the Conservatives since 1970.

That does not suggest a transformative electoral idea, does it? It may, perhaps, help save the odd seat here and there, which seems about the limit of the ambition of this Tory government right now.

You do wonder why they want to be in power at all other than paying the mortgage? This is a government with no real ideas to offer other than a spot of performative cruelty from Suella Braverman. There is no clear notion as to what it is for.

Rishi Sunak is just the latest in a long line of inadequate Tory Prime Ministers since 2010. His only boast can be that he isn’t as mendacious or as ridiculous as his two predecessors. But that is hardly a stretch for anyone. Beyond that, what has he to offer?

The rolling back on the net zero policies is a short-term solution to an electoral problem not an environmental one. And even then it’s not certain it will achieve even that. It’s another fault line likely to cause rifts in the party after all. As such, it has every chance of making Sunak look weaker rather than stronger.

Beyond that, it tarnishes the UK’s green credentials in the wider world, it makes us look like a country that doesn’t keep its word (not for the first time of late).

And it would suggest that the UK is burying its head in the sand when one of the few upsides of Boris Johnson’s time in office was a recognition - however spottily addressed - of the scale of the problem.

It does not always help to pay attention to former Tory environment minister Zac Goldsmith, but his summary of Sunak’s move was scathing: “His short stint as PM will be remembered as the moment the UK turned its back on the world and on future generations. A moment of shame.”

With “friends” like these, eh Rishi … The more worrying reaction to the news for the Prime Minister is surely the one coming from the car industry; one of the potential beneficiaries, you might think, of the news to delay the phasing out of the selling of petrol cars by five years. They’re not happy. Ford’s reaction was unequivocal. “Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.”

By lunchtime yesterday even energy giant E.On was having a go at the government's plans to water down its commitments. But in the end that didn't stop him as the press conference yesterday afternoon proved.

Let us be clear about this. A government that moves the goalposts for its own party political ends rather than for the good of the country is a government that has come to the end of the line.

Like I’ve said above, this is not a serious government. Worse than that, this is a government that is now, it seems, only interested in its own survival. The sooner it is gone the better for all of us.