Rishi Sunak hopes an economic recovery can help chase down Labour in opinion polls. UK PARLIAMENT via AFP/Jessica TAYLOR

Over the past few months, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced controversial decisions regarding a backtrack on net zero goals.

Sunak has delayed the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years, meaning the "zero emission" requirement for the new vehicles would come into effect in 2035.

The Prime Minister has also continued to allow gas and oil drilling projects in the North Sea.

Addressing Sunak at COP28, which was hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Sir Alok Sharma, said that global authorities "have noticed" that the UK government has rolled back on its prior agreements.

Sunak must "step up to the plate" and start phasing out fossil fuels, Sharma urged.

The former Conservative Cabinet Minister, who served as the President of COP26 in Scotland, told reporters: "We have seen some mixed messages and unfortunate rhetoric on climate and chopping and changing policies over past few months."

"One of the reason we were able to get a successful outcome at COP26 over the line was because we showed strong domestic commitment," he added.

The Conservative Party Leader said that world leaders must work together to tackle climate change, but with solutions that do not affect people's finances.

Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party member of the House of Commons, also criticised Sunak, calling his decision to continue projects in the North Sea "morally obscene".

Lucas noted that the activities will not bring down the bills for the UK public, explaining: "Energy security and cheaper bills aren't delivered by allowing highly subsidised, foreign-owned fossil fuel giants to extract more oil and gas from these islands and sell it overseas to the highest bidder."

Sunak's pledge to protect personal finances comes after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, caused an outburst of protests amongst the UK public in the capital.

The London Mayor was met with demonstrations and the Metropolitan Police were forced to repair vandalised street cameras after Khan called for an expansion of London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

In an attempt to reduce air pollution in London that is contributing to climate change, which saw Hillingdon, Harrow, Edgware, Hayes, Barnet, Croydon, Bexley and other areas considered part of the ULEZ catchment area with immediate effect, hard-working families were forced to pay the price.

It was measured that the step towards tackling climate change would cost the public £12.50 more each day. More than 3.5 million people would be required to pay and more than 100,000 drivers would be forced to pay an extra £4,500 a year.

While attending COP28, Sunak pointed the finger at international leaders for not recognising his scrapping of landlords needing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade C or higher for rental properties.

The plan, which was announced alongside the Boiler Upgrade Grant increasing by 50 per cent to assist with household replacing their gas boilers, was scrapped by the Tory Leader as it "risks losing the consent of the British people".

After being questioned on his multiple net zero backtracks, Sunak criticised the leaders in attendance, saying: "Not a single leader that I have spoken to today has spoken about that. Do you know why? Because most of their targets are less ambitious than the UK's."

Tackling climate change has left governments "distorted", the Prime Minister argued, adding that environmental debates have led to authorities being "polarised by extremes and that is not good for our country".

Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer blamed the Prime Minister for attempting to "polarise the debate" on the current climate crisis by "casting aside global leadership".

Pointing the finger at Sunak, Starmer said: "Every country needs to do more across the globe - that includes the UK."

"If we do not hit the targets, it will be a disaster which is measured in floods in fires in all sorts of catastrophes across the world," the Labour Leader concluded.