Rishi Sunaks’ decision to make domestic flights cheaper, freeze fuel tariffs and spend $ 21 billion on roads just before the Cop26 climate summit has provoked a furious reaction from green activists.
Chancellors budget speech did not mention the climate crisis despite the 196-nation summit hosted by the UK, which opened in Glasgow on Sunday. The UK cut in foreign aid funds has undermined its climate credibility with developing countries, but was in fact further curtailed by the inclusion of donations of Covid vaccines.
The chancellor said the UK was entering an era of optimism, but instead it extended the age of fossil fuels, said Luke Murphy, at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Sunak spoke at length about the task of beer than about our duty to future generations to tackle climate crises. This budget was an own goal for a government that should lead the world into a new era of low carbon [at] Cop26.
Katie White from the WWF said: Budget announcements are heading us in the wrong direction. If the chancellor is serious about raising and improving life chances for future generations, then he should invest now to deliver the net zero transition. Future generations will not forgive or forget those who fail to act while there is still time.
Sunak halved the tax on domestic flights, which are already much cheaper and more polluting to get than trains. Air passenger fares increased by 4 on ultra-long flights over 5,550 miles, from 87 to 91. But Sunak said: Less than 5% of passengers will pay more. Overall, the changes are a tax break of 30 million a year.
Just five days before the start of Cop26, it was surprising that the chancellor did not even mention the words climate or nature, said Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. This was not simply a failure to address the climate emergency, it actually drove us back. It is hard to think of a greater disregard for our responsibility as hosts of Cop26.
There was 1.5 billion new funding for public transportation, but Paul Tuohy, of the Better Transportation Campaign, said: Commitment to spending billions on road construction and continuing to freeze fuel tariffs will come as cold comfort for many families without a car. who continue to be hit by rising rail and bus fares. How can our leaders keep their heads high in Cop26?
The government said it had mobilized 26 billion government capital investments for the green industrial revolution since the announcement of a 10-point climate plan a year ago and would boost new private investment up to 90 billion by 2030. The Green Alliance said that Sunak had left a 21 billion a year investment shortfall, while Labor has promised 280 billion in green investments by 2030.
Sam Hall, director of the Conservative Environmental Network, which has more than 100 lawmakers and conservative colleagues as members, said the new spending on upgrading, improving regional transport and boosting R&D will support governments’ net net mission. . But the chancellor missed an opportunity to position the net zero at the heart of the Treasury’s long-term economic strategy, to link the tax system to our environmental goals, and to fill some significant funding gaps, such as incentives for homeowners to insulate their homes. tire.
Shane Tomlinson from the E3G green expert group said: “It is now clear that there is a growing divide between the prime ministers ‘ambition for a green industrial revolution and the chancellors’ willingness to make it happen.
Sunak said the previous cut in the UK foreign aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% would be canceled by 2024-2025. But Claire McConnell from E3G said the Treasury had in fact further cut aid including vaccine donations and special withdrawal rights it received as an unexpected profit from the IMF. For a successful Cop26, the UK needs the support of low- and middle-income countries. Instead, the government is directly harming those countries and the relationships it needs.
Jayne Harrold from PwC consultants said: With Cop26 near the corner, it is surprising to see that the chancellor no longer introduced a green-focused budget. It is possible that he adheres to these topics for Cop26.
The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology welcomed the new easing of the green business rate supporting the installation of renewable energy, but said the lack of other major measures was a missed opportunity ahead of Cop26.
A 230 million increase in investment in the UK offshore wind sector was welcomed by Dan McGrail, CEO of RenewableUK, while Jo Evans of the Advanced Propulsion Center was also pleased with the financial support for electric cars: Continuous support creates wealth and brings us closer. to achieve zero net ambitions.
Additional reporting by Heather Stewart
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