“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation: I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem… but we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing”, chancellor George Osborne told parliament on Wednesday.
However, the issue of climate change did not get a single mention in his speech. Something which may be considered odd by some green campaigners, especially after Mr Osbourne said that “doing the right thing for the next generation is what the government and this budget is about.”
To ignore the issue of climate crisis in a speech centred on “doing the right thing for the next generation,” could be considered bewildering to many, with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas calling it “sheer hypocrisy”.
The latest budget offered a mixed bag where environmental issues are concerned, with a combination of increased support for some clean technologies and controversial tax breaks for fossil fuels.
In the budget the chancellor pledged a further £700m for flood defences across the UK. This will come as a relief to many, especially considering that flooding is the UK’s number one threat from global warming with storms Desmond and Eva flooding 16,000 houses in England during the wettest December in a century.
The budget also included more support for a wealth fund for people living near shale gas sites and the freezing of fuel duty. The chancellor also helped untangle the complex web of business taxes on energy – something welcomed .
Tackling the effects of climate change on the UK is one thing but what about impacting the UK’s emissions figures and actively working to prevent climate change? After Wednesday’s budget, renewable energy – one of the key solutions to climate change – faces an even higher “climate change levy,” while the oil and gas industry’s were rewarded with a £1bn tax break; they received the the same in 2015 too.
In a statement, Friends of the Earth said: “The Budget was full of ‘next generation rhetoric’, but tax breaks for the climate-wrecking oil and gas industry pose a real threat to the security of people, the economy and planet.
“It’s almost as if the recent UN climate agreement in Paris never occurred. What happened in Paris appears to have stayed in Paris.”
Osbourne announced that Energy efficiency programs are to be slashed by 80% and failed to mention anything of the UK’s solar power and onshore wind industry’s. Osborne did announce “up to” £730m of investment and support for offshore wind and other “less established” renewable energy sources which will be delivered from 2021-22 onwards but these measures have been described as offering to little with far more investment and investor security needed if such programs are to make any real change.
Since the budget annoucemnet yesterday many green campaigners have spoken out and accused the chancellor of promising a Budget for the next generation whilst doing too little to combat climate change.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP said:
“Not only has the chancellor missed his own targets but he is now deepening his attacks on those in need while cutting corporation tax. While his announcement of rate relief for small businesses is welcome, it is undermined by his handout to Britain’s biggest corporations.”
“This climate-wrecking budget shows that the Government’s talk of putting the next generation first is nothing short of sheer hypocrisy. If our Government was serious about creating a decent society for our children and grandchildren then they would be pulling out all the stops to support British firms and business in the renewable energy sector and to keep fossil fuels in the ground. And where is the mass programme of zero-carbon council houses that is so desperately needed?”
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said that:
“The chancellor said several times that this was a budget for future generations, [but] it’s not evident that he has internalised the implications of the recent Paris climate summit. The concrete measures he’s announced barely make a difference to this generation.”
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