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New budget commits UK to 34% carbon cut by 2020

pound-noteIt’s Budget Day today, and here’s what the Right Honourable Alistair Darling MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, had to say to the House of Commons:

“(T)oday’s Budget will continue to help people through this global recession, and prepare Britain for the opportunities of the future.

“Firstly, there will be help now to get people back into work quickly, and support businesses and homeowners facing problems. Secondly, there will be measures to support investment in the growth and green industries of the future  — while, as the recovery takes hold, ensure our public finances are sustainable.

“Taken together, this Budget will build on the strengths of the British economy and its people, speed the recovery, providing jobs and spreading prosperity.”

The budget includes “the world’s first ever carbon budget,” which will commit the UK to cutting its carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020.

Other elements in the budget include:

  • More than £260 million in new money for job training and subsidies to help young people prepare for employment in sectors with strong future demand;
  • A £2,000 discount on new vehicles for motorists who trade in cars over ten years old, available through March 2010;
  • £1 billion to combat climate change through support for low-carbon industries and green-collar jobs;
  • £100 million for local authorities to build new energy-efficient housing;
  • A £750 million Strategic Investment Fund to support emerging technologies and regionally important sectors;
  • £435 million of extra support to deliver energy efficiency measures to homes, businesses and public buildings;
  • £525 million of new financial support over the next two years for offshore wind energy development;
  • A Climate Change Levy exemption through 2013 to encourage projects developing combined heat and power technology;
  • £405 million of new funding to promote low-carbon energy and advanced green manufacturing in Britain;

In response to the budget, here’s what others had to say:

Robin Cohen, a partner in Deloitte’s Economic Consulting Practice: “We will need to understand the detail of what the Chancellor has proposed, however all help for this sector is very welcome and should have the most impact for marginal wind power projects. The current estimates of the costs of building offshore wind to meet the Government’s renewable energy targets for 2020, are in the order of £70-90 billion. This expenditure needs to compete with other investment opportunities and in particular with available feed-in tariffs in other countries. The Government’s proposals to provide additional support of £525m to early projects reaching financial close between now and 2011 is clearly significant in terms of countering some of the advantages of lower risk feed-in tariffs available elsewhere.”

John Piggott, Associate-Director, Arup: “The additional funding for offshore wind and the new line of credit from the European Investment Bank are both positive measures that should be welcomed. The additional £525 million for offshore wind is funded through the Renewables Obligation, so it is a redistribution of an existing budget, rather than new money, but it is important nonetheless. It means that we can make progress with offshore wind and grow an important UK industry at the same time, protecting jobs and in the longer term, competing in the global wind energy market.”

Kevin Brennan, Head of Sustainability, VELUX Company Ltd.: “Today’s carbon budget is good news for the consumer and the environment. It provides a clear indication of the Government’s continued commitment to the UK’s green agenda. A cash injection of £375 million to support energy efficiency across the UK’s homes and businesses will not only enable us to significantly reduce carbon emissions, but will ensure the continued employment and development within the green technology sector, which is vital if we are to meet the UK’s newly proposed target for a 34 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 … However, with such a strong focus on improving energy efficiency in today’s budget, I would have liked to see the launch of a range of meaningful financial incentives and a Government accreditation scheme to assist homeowners when installing measures such as solar thermal into their homes. Consumer awareness around the need to improve a home’s energy efficiency is gradually increasing, but consumers now need support and advice on selecting the right eco technologies to ensure maximum benefit.”

Tom Delay, CEO, Carbon Trust: “This budget is good news for carbon reduction. Moving forward we will work with Government to ensure that the funding announced delivers maximum carbon impact and good overall value for money for Britain … We can make the UK a global hub for low carbon innovation despite strong international competition. With limited public funding we must invest in technology areas where we have real strengths and commit to support these over time. Therefore, the decision on offshore wind to provide additional support is very welcome.  Offshore wind is a great example of a proven technology worthy of focussed support to drive down costs. The winds blow hard around the UK, we’ve got experience of offshore engineering from the North Sea and we can lead the world offshore generating tens of thousands of new jobs in the process.”

Stephen Joseph, executive director, Campaign for Better Transport: “This (car scrappage) scheme has no environmental criteria, so it won’t result in greener cars. And it won’t even help save British jobs — it’ll subsidise cars made abroad. The Government says it wants to cut carbon emissions, but in practice it is subsidising gas guzzlers. Instead of the scrappage scheme, the Government should have supported local transport projects such as trams in Liverpool, road maintenance and cycling schemes to safeguard skilled ‘green collar’ jobs in Britain.”

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