• Loading

Budget a ‘missed opportunity’

This budget was a missed opportunity for the government to show that it is serious about addressing the problem of climate change, which threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world's poorest people.

The government is in the process of passing into law the Climate Change Bill which will commit the country to significant reductions in carbon emissions.

During his speech, the Chancellor gave a strong indication that in due course the government would adopt a target of 80 per cent emission reductions over 1990 levels.

Incoherent

But as yet there is no coherent and comprehensive plan to achieve even the 60 per cent cut originally mooted. In such circumstances, talk of a possible 80 per cent cut, while welcome, looks both disingenuous and unachievable 

This budget – the first since the Climate Change Bill began its passage through Parliament – should have set out a vision of a low carbon British economy and a coherent package of fiscal measures to encourage emission reductions. It failed to do so.

Instead, there were piecemeal suggestions about how to tackle climate change. If the Chancellor were serious about achieving emissions reductions through his first budget, he would have ensured that he delivered a comprehensive and coherent package of measures.

Britain's responsibility

And if he were serious in recognising the UK's responsibility to support carbon emissions cuts in the developing world, he would have ensured that additional funds raised were directed to this goal, as well as towards providing incentives and alternatives to help the UK hit its climate targets.

Earmarking or 'hypothecating' the proceeds of 'climate change taxes' towards green goals would not only help the UK fulfil its international obligations to support global low carbon development but would also show UK tax payers that the new levies have a genuine environmental purpose. There was no suggestion, however, that at present this forms part of government thinking.