Renewables groups and opposition parties have slammed the government for not using the Budget to bring forward new measures to tackle climate change while freezing the level of the carbon price.
Responding to the Budget in the House of Commons, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, said the government’s inaction on tackling greenhouse emissions was glaring in the light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent warning that rapid action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
She said: “Barely two weeks ago, the world’s scientists issued their most stark warning yet that we have just 12 years in which to tackle climate change and avoid climate catastrophe, yet there was not a single word from the chancellor about climate change, nothing about clean energy, nothing about green energy.”
She was backed up by former Liberal Democrat secretary of state for energy and climate change Sir Ed Davey.
He said: “This budget is grossly disappointing for those, like me, who care about fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The chancellor has simply thrown in the towel.
“The Tories have frozen fuel duty, slashed electric car subsides, committed £30 billion to new road building and promise to continue at the same level subsidises to the oil and gas industry, while offering a measly £60 million to planting new trees, as if that will negate the damage they’re doing.”
Chris Hewett, chief executive at the Solar Trade Association, expressed “bitter disappointment” that the government had not responded to its campaign to restore a mechanism for small scale solar generators to sell their surplus generation to the grid.
He said: “This government claims to support clean, green technologies, but this rhetoric is far from being matched by even the most modest of actions. Solar is the biggest clean energy market in the world today and by putting obstacles in the path of this technology the government is frustrating the urgent energy transition and putting British industries at a disadvantage in global clean energy markets.”
James Court, policy and external affairs director at the Renewable Energy Association, added: “It is frustrating that another budget comes and goes, yet the opportunity for the UK to be a genuine leader in crucial future technologies slips by. There is huge support for renewables across the country, parliament, and even within government, yet the Treasury continues to stymie the potential growth in this sector.
“Next to nothing in this budget will help build clean energy infrastructure we so desperately need, and in parts actively harms the industry. Carbon prices frozen, tax allowances for energy products scrapped, and a continued block to market for the cheapest forms of electricity.”
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UK Green Building Council criticised the scrapping of enhanced capital allowances for energy efficiency measures and said the move would make it harder for companies to invest in such improvements.
She said: “This is at odds with the scale of the climate challenge and the urgency with which it needs to be tackled.
“Three weeks after the IPCC’s landmark report highlighted the urgent need to tackle climate change and the subsequent ambitions announced by the minister for energy and clean growth, this budget is notable by the absence of any substantial clean growth measures.”