“Doing the right thing for the next generation is what the government and this budget is about,” chancellor George Osborne told parliament on Wednesday. “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.” However, despite rising global temperatures now shattering all records, the issue of climate change did not get a single mention in his speech. Worse than the missing words, the budget did almost nothing to support the clean energy economy the UK needs to develop for the 21st century, and did a lot to block it. Small modular nuclear reactors got a modest £30m boost, which might bear useful fruit in 2030 or so. But the UK needs clean energy now. Perhaps the most intriguing of Osborne’s words were the blink-and-you-missed-it reference to National Infrastructure Commission: “I am also accepting [its] recommendations on energy.”The NIC backed a smart and flexible vision of energy supply — saving consumers £8bn a year by 2030 — that contrasts starkly with Osborne’s current plans, which are founded on fossil fuels and massive “white elephant” nuclear plants. Perhaps Osborne hasn’t actually read the NIC report. Nonetheless, there’s £50m for storage and other smart energy technologies over the next five years.
Guardian 16th March 2016 read more »
Letter Craig Bennett etc: In December, David Cameron joined 195 other leaders to promise ambitious action on climate change. Achieving the Paris goals requires leaving most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground. A first step must be to stop subsidising fossil fuel production. Wednesday’s budget is an acid test of the government’s Paris commitment. In last year’s budget, the chancellor gave £1.3bn in new tax breaks and direct funding to the oil industry. The UK Treasury receives a smaller share of oil revenues than most other comparable countries. Meanwhile, the government has exempted a whole new fossil-fuel industry – fracking – from half of its tax, despite huge local opposition wherever it is proposed. The government has slashed support for wind and solar energy, costing thousands of jobs. Yet its free-market rationale does not apply when it comes to the oil and gas industry, which has received continued government support even in times of super-normal profits. The chancellor has to change course. He should scrap subsidies that keep the British economy hooked on fossil fuels, and instead set out a strategy to help communities currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs to diversify and to rebuild around world-leading clean technology.
Guardian 15th March 2016 read more »