This year the spring budget comes at an odd time for all things low carbon in the UK. In February, the government published its industrial strategy, setting out its clean growth aims as part of Theresa May’s flagship domestic economic policy. By the beginning of the summer, the government will produce a ‘clean growth’ plan, outlining how the UK will meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering 2023-32). The mood music is good: the government is committed to meeting these budgets, and is signalling that it sees economic opportunities for the UK in an increasingly low carbon, resource efficient world. This is welcome, but the wider context for the country’s low carbon strategy is less rosy. In mid-2015, David Cameron’s government reversed 16 major policies contributing to decarbonisation, including support for onshore wind and the zero carbon homes policy. A few months later, it abruptly ended the longstanding carbon capture and storage (CCS) programme, weeks before a decision on the UK’s first CCS plant was due to be made. These actions opened up a major gap in UK decarbonisation policy. So, despite the subsequent, laudable decisions to phase out the UK’s old and dirty coal fleet, sign the Paris climate agreement and commit to supporting 10GW of offshore wind, the UK’s low carbon strategy ended last year in tumult. In its summary of progress, the Committee on Climate Change warned that “current decarbonisation policies, at best, will deliver about half the required reduction in emissions.” That assessment was made before figures for UK’s infrastructure pipeline were released, showing that renewables investment is set to fall by 95 per cent between 2017 and 2020. This investment cliff edge is largely down to the government: its levy control framework (LCF), which is used to fund low carbon power, ends in 2020, and its renewal is overdue.
Green Alliance Blog 6th March 2017 read more »