Thursday, 23 April 2009

Budget announcements on the environment receive mixed reactions

Yesterday's UK budget announcements from the Chancellor Alistair Darling include a number of environmental ingredients, but do not amount to a "green budget", according to many environmentalists. However, it is the first time a Chancellor has set a budget for carbon with a "legally binding" target.

The government will spend £1 billion on supporting low carbon businesses. They will aim for greenhouse gas emission cuts of 34 percent by 2020, short of the 42 percent target with respect to 1990 levels recommended by the government's advisory climate committee. NGO's such as Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid and the New Economics Foundation have criticised the target announcement as not bold enough to ensure the UK reaches the 80 percent cut in emissions needed by 2050.

There is a promise of £435 million for energy efficiency improvements including £100 million for local authorities to spend on better insulation. In addition the government has announced £5 billion is to be spent on renewables, particularly wind farms and solar PV, pronouncements welcomed by the BWEA and Solar Century, amongst others. Between 2011 and 2014, £525 million will be spent on offshore wind farm to power 3 million homes.

A few other measures are of note to local sustainable energy schemes such as Ashden Award winners in the UK: £45m to small-scale domestic renewables; £25m to community heating schemes and £65m in loans to public sector organisations for improving energy efficiency.

According to Simon Brammer, UK programme manager for the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy: "This is no green budget but it does represent some progress towards a more low carbon economy. We welcome the announcement of support for energy efficiency, for small scale domestic energy, community heating schemes and for renewable energy as a step in the right direction. We hope the support for green technology will help bring more green jobs and the boost the confidence of private investors enough to really scale up the success of many of our winners."

Read more:
- Richard Black analysis on the BBC
- Louise Gray in the Telegraph
- Terry Macalister in the Guardian

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