Senior rabbi criticises ‘selfish’ Sunak over climate change reverse

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Senior rabbi criticises ‘selfish’ Sunak over climate change reverse

Following PM's announcement, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg writes: 'I don’t understand why he has no conscience about short-term decisions which help destroy our children’s future.'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg has sharply criticised Rishi Sunak after the prime minister announced a series of measures that watered down the government’s climate change commitments.

Responding to Wednesday’s announcement by Sunak at a Downing Street press conference, the senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism wrote on social media:”I don’t understand why our Prime Minister has no conscience about short-term selfish decisions which help destroy our children’s future.”

Wittenberg, who is on the rabbical team of EcoSynagogue, the organisation that encourages environmental sustainability and awareness in the British Jewish community, is also due to give a speech at a communal event next week stressing the importance of work to combat the climate emergency.

Masort Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg joined Friday’s anti-Netanyahu protest

There was further criticism from Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Senior Rabbi of The Ark Synagogue, who said: “Whilst Judaism specialises in saying zachor – remember – it is not only to honour the past but to learn for the future.

“Rolling back on climate and environmental promises guarantee that decision makers today will be remembered for ill and clouds the future.”

In his press conference, the PM claimed politicians had not been “honest with the public” about the cost of net zero.

Sunak said the present approach would impose “unacceptable costs on hard-pressed British families”.

He said the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 would be pushed back to 2035.

But the PM was criticised after claiming there was a government “diktat” to force household to use seven bins.

It emerged that no one had been proposed such a policy, which Sunak said he had “scrapped.”

Some business leaders also condemned the announcement, saying they had committed to investment in green products.

ecoJudaism website

Earlier this week, the Board of Deputies announced that its climate emergency committee was partnering with EcoJudaism for online sessions on how to combat the climate emergency.

In 2021, the Board pledged to take action to cut carbon emissions and to play its part in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

On Thursday 28 September and Thursday 26 October teams from synagogues taking their own steps to reduce emissions will be speaking at the sessions.

Ahead of the EcoJudaism events Board President Marie van der Zyl said: “We congratulate our award-winning synagogues for the great strides they have already made, and we encourage communities large and small to come to one or both of these evenings to consider how we can all contribute to reaching net zero by 2050”.


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