Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, has today set out the UK government’s spending plans for the next year and beyond.
In light of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, this budget is disappointing. There is no additional funding for nature recovery, and funding to address climate change is mixed.
There is investment in technology and innovation to tackle climate change, including funding for research into floating wind turbines and (if supported by a business case) support for the development of a Holyhead Hydrogen Hub. Technology alone will not get us out of the climate emergency; there must be support for reducing carbon emissions and Nature-based Solutions.
Alarmingly, there is also funding for a biomass feedstocks programme. It has long been known that biofuels have negative impacts in terms of land use take away from food production and nature.
A matter of days before COP26 starts, it is surprising to see the Chancellor reducing the cost of domestic flights within the UK when lower emission transport such as rail should be promoted for these distances. The Chancellor has however increased tax on long haul flights over 5,500 miles.
Announced in the Budget is also a new carbon markets working group. The Budget states: “Dame Clara Furse will establish a new group with the aim of positioning the UK and the City of London as the leading global market for high quality voluntary carbon offsets, which can play an important role in addition to international efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The working group will draw on the UK’s financial expertise and entrepreneurship and build on the work of crossing-cutting initiatives such as the Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.” The Budget goes on to say: “The government will maintain the freeze on Carbon Price Support rates at £18 per tonne of carbon dioxide in 2022-23. The government is committed to carbon pricing as a tool to drive decarbonisation and intends to set out additional proposals for expanding the UK Emissions Trading Scheme over the course of 2021.”