What did the autumn budget do ‘to help the planet have a future’?

The UK’s performance in meeting its carbon emissions reduction commitment does seem to be on track

Posted on 23 November 2017.

The UK’s performance in meeting its carbon emissions reduction commitment does seem to be on track - reduced on average by 4.5% pa over the past three years and now 38% below 1990 levels.  However, this has been achieved almost entirely through the power sector thanks to investment in renewables and a reduction in coal use.  Progress on other fronts, including energy efficiency, low carbon heat and transport, has been disappointing.  Only transport was in any way addressed in Philip Hammond’s budget yesterday. 

This is a disappointment as there is no lack of clearly evidenced opportunity!  You will see in this article that there is still £2bn/year energy savings opportunities identified through ESOS reports that have not progressed even though ESOS scratched the surface.  So, we still need the Government to be aggressively and pro-actively making us all reduce energy consumption.  (I refer you to a previous article – ‘life gets in the way of sustainability’).

It was initially gratifying to see reference to ‘the world being on the brink of a technological revolution’ of which energy and sustainability is a key component.  Investment was said to be key but as far as energy and the environment that was it.  There was nothing more.

So for Philip Hammond’s third budget what were his solutions for energy and the environment to, as he said, ‘help (the) planet have a future’?  Such announcements covered a paltry 3 minutes of his speech and wholly centred around transport namely £400m for assistance with electric car infrastructure, no tax liability for individuals charging cars at work, a £220m clean air fund (eg for modernising buses with more energy efficient technologies) and that excise duty will be increased for the most polluting diesel cars.  Further scratching of the surface.

In addition, the cancellation of the fuel duty rise planned for April 2018 clearly flies in the face of the above minimal initiatives.  However it was Jeremy Corbyn‘s response that summed up the key word of the day; Ignorance. He asked the Chancellor what had happened to the Conservatives promise of an energy cap to benefit 17 million families; perhaps however the Conservatives have realised the ignorance of this policy and the fact that government initiatives have significantly driven p/kWh prices as well as the global energy marketplace over which they have no control. Maybe what we really need is ‘education, education, education’!