With the vital COP26 climate conference starting this weekend in Glasgow, there had been speculation that the Chancellor would use this budget to provide the money needed for the UK’s future low-carbon economy.
Although Rishi Sunak did not explicitly mention the climate, here is how some of the political announcements could impact the environment:
Stopping flying is one of the best things you can do for the climate, but flying within the UK will become cheaper, thanks to a halving of the duty of air passengers.
Mr Sunak said he was removing an anomaly where people were taxed more to fly to the UK than to Europe. Surveys consistently show that people want frequent flyers to be taxed extra.
The Greens say it will only encourage more flights for journeys where people could take the train. 5% of long-haul passengers will pay a higher duty for air passengers.
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Friends of the Earth policy chief Mike Childs said: “These plans will simply prolong the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels.”
Despite rumors that the chancellor should have ended the freeze on fuel duties, it brought good news to drivers by extending it for the 12th year. He said the average driver would save £ 1,900 over the period.
Environmentalists say it encourages further driving. Howard Cox of the FairFuelUK drivers lobby group said: “We shamelessly take part of the campaign credit for longer than any UK excise tax that has been capped.
“This is great news and some relief for drivers in trouble.”
Meanwhile, the government says it wants people to drive less, but is expanding the road network. Ministers say it will improve connectivity and help alleviate bottlenecks. Environmentalists say it is inevitable that more roads lead to more traffic.
Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said, “The commitment to spend billions on road construction and continue to freeze the fuel tax will be a cold comfort to the many car-free families who continue to be affected. from the increase in railways and buses.
“How can our leaders keep their heads high at COP26 with this sordid budget still ringing in the ears of the delegates?”
The radical group Insulate Britain has been wreaking havoc for weeks now, but it hasn’t prompted Mr. Sunak to invest more funds in home renovations.
The UK will not meet its climate change targets with its current leaking housing stock, and a report suggested it would take £ 10 billion over three years to start an insulation and heat pump industry. But they failed to convince the chancellor that modernizing homes is a good investment in infrastructure that creates jobs.
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive Officer of the UK’s Green Buildings Council, said: “Within days of the COP26 conference, the Chancellor’s announcements seemed to come from another planet and another era.
“There have been no big announcements to close the clear gap that has emerged around the decarbonisation of existing buildings.”
The government’s investment in railways was widely welcomed, along with a major contribution of £ 4.8 billion to improve public transport within cities.
No news on the HS2 high-speed network. The government could save carbon emissions by deciding not to build the eastern route from Birmingham to Leeds and instead investing the money in Northern Commuter Rail. That decision has been put on hold.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “While it is good to see confirmation of what appears to be an additional £ 1.5 billion funding for regional transport projects, including railways, this budget looks be a missed opportunity to unleash the railways’ potential to help the country rebuild better.
“Even with COP26 just around the corner, this would have been a good time to define the government’s plans to achieve a zero-net railroad, including a rolling electrification program and orders for hydrogen and battery train fleets.”
The chancellor has announced a new financing model for nuclear power, a kind of upfront fee to finance a new power plant.
Environmentalists are divided over nuclear power, but Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is a great vote of confidence in nuclear power and a historic step forward for nuclear investment, with new funding for a large-scale project. , plus modular reactor money to enable future projects. “
“We cannot go to net zero without investing in new nuclear capacity.”
Friends of the Earth said the budget contained more on beer than climate.
Green Congressman Caroline Lucas said: “The climate-shaped hole in the center of this budget couldn’t be more evident. With more money on the streets and cheaper short-haul flights, it actually got us back. It’s hard. think of a greater abandonment of our responsibility as guests of the COP. “
Worrying for people concerned about the environment, Sunak has made it clear that he will not be borrowing to tackle the climate crisis because he needs to fix the government’s finances.
A government spokesperson told BBC News: “The policies and spending pursued in the government’s Net Zero strategy mean that from the ten-point plan we have mobilized over £ 26 billion of government capital investment for the green industrial revolution.
“Together with the regulations, this will support 190,000 jobs by 2025 and 440,000 jobs by 2030 and leverage up to £ 90bn of private investment by 2030.”
The COP26 world climate summit in Glasgow in November is seen as crucial if climate change is to be kept under control. Nearly 200 countries are being asked for their plans to reduce emissions and this could lead to major changes in our daily lives.
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