The Autumn Budget - A Missed Opportunity

George Richards, Business Development Director, JRP Solutions

Posted on 01 November 2018.

Two weeks following the publication of the IPCC’s report on Climate Change Phillip Hammond delivered his 2018 Autumn Budget and in so doing missed a huge opportunity to demonstrate real leadership and respond positively and directly to the serious consequences of continued inaction highlighted within the report aptly entitled ‘Act Now – Idiots!’

For the ninth consecutive year fuel duty was frozen sending a clear signal to both motorists and oil companies that nothing is about to change despite the air pollution challenges facing many of our cities. Whilst many will see this as welcome news at least from a personal financial perspective, others may view this as being counter productive and certainly does nothing in moving the UK towards a zero carbon economy. 

Yes the Government has recently announced funding for innovation including the Faraday Challenge designed to encourage accelerated progress in battery technology development but we are a long way from vehicle electrification on the scale needed. Besides which vehicle electrification presents other significant challenges not least of which is our ability to generate and distribute sufficient electricity at peak times to meet the associated increased demand.

Whilst on the subject of transport the Chancellor also froze the Short Haul Air Passenger Duty which has remained unchanged since 2012.

He did however announce “a package of measures” regarding plastic pollution including a new tax on manufactured or imported plastics containing less than 30% recycled plastic.

Surely, this was an ideal opportunity to announce long term strategies for health, education, transport and, in particular, energy? With Brexit looming large on the horizon we need strong leadership and clear direction with our responsibilities to the environment overriding the need to fix potholes.

Perhaps it is the nature of our democracy that prevents successive Chancellors from showing true leadership and our Prime Ministers from developing and delivering long term strategies for Education, Health, Transport and Energy. If we continue to avoid making difficult decisions and fail to implement non-vote winning policies we will never move forward as a nation and will be as responsible as the manufacturing super powers such as China, India and the USA for the continued and inevitable destruction of our environment.

If Mrs May fails to negotiate a good Brexit agreement Phillip Hammond is likely to be back with a Spring Budget but I for one am not holding my breath.

If you want to discuss what more your organisation could be doing to reduce your environmental impact, please do get in touch – email me or call 0800 6127 567.