Lord Willie Haughey believes UK Government changes to the UK’s climate pledges demonstrates the Conservatives “winding back on their green credentials and promises”.

His comment comes after Rishi Sunak announced a raft of moves, including delaying a ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by five years to 2035. The Prime Minister said he was making the changes because previous plans were unaffordable and unachievable.

However, Sir Tom Hunter said: “I think this can be looked at in two ways. Sunak has said he agrees with the idea of getting to net zero by 2050 but doesn’t want to bankrupt the UK public on the way there. 

“I think everybody would agree with that. This is such a difficult subject that, on the one hand, you get people saying: ‘Oh, this is terrible!’, and on the other, it’s being asked: ‘Is it practical?’.”

Lord Haughey said: “I think a lot of the Green lobby will be jumping up and down but, yes, there has to be a sensible approach. Everyone wants to get to net zero but we need a complete understanding of the cost and what that means.

“Okay, so the head of the Greens has come out, saying: ‘This is the end, blah, blah, blah . . .’ I’d love to ask what would happen if everybody owned an electric car tomorrow?”

“It wouldn’t work. We have to have a transition. We are all for net zero, 100 percent, but let’s have a serious debate about what the financial consequences are and how can we all get there.”

He said no one was addressing the fact the UK first has to have an infrastructure in order to support what it is trying to get to by 2050, adding: “The whole conversation should be around who’s going to fund that.”

Sir Tom noted: “It was telling when Rishi Sunak– and I do like him –  said for too many years politicians and governments of all stripes have not been honest about the costs and trade-offs of reaching net zero.

“That sums it up. We all agree we want to get there . . . we maybe disagree on how to get there.”