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The Chancellor must act on climate change in his annual Budget next Wednesday [19 March 2014], having stressed the urgency of action after the devastating floods thaudget t hit Britain this winter, Friends of the Earth said today.
Climate change has rocketed up the political agenda following the winter battering Britain took, with both David Cameron and George Osborne making notable statements (see below).
Friends of the Earth has set the Chancellor four key tests for Budget 2014:
1. Immediately increase flood defence spending – reversing real terms cuts, and pledging increases to keep up with the likelihood of future floods caused by climate change.
2. Finally announce that the Green Investment Bank [GIB] is free to borrow, as called for last week by a powerful committee of MPs – a thriving GIB is vital to fill the urgent low-carbon funding gap.
3. Announce he will no longer pursue a review of the UK’s fourth carbon budget – speculation is the enemy of investment. If anything, the budget should be tightened, not relaxed.
4. Face down big business calls to freeze carbon tax – the demands of some business groups for the Chancellor to freeze the ‘carbon price floor’ (CPF) must not be heeded, although it is right to give specific help to genuinely disproportionately affected sections of industry. The CPF money should be used to underpin a comprehensive, job-creating and economy-boosting programme of home insulation, starting with the fuel poor.
Commenting ahead of the Budget, Friends of the Earth’s Economics Campaigner, David Powell, said:
“This winter, climate change hit home and the Chancellor promised to act – now his Budget must put his money where his mouth is.
“He must reverse the Coalition’s embarrassing cuts to flood defences, and increase spending well above inflation as economists and engineers demand.
“Until now the biggest barrier the Chancellor has put up has been to low-carbon investment. Nervous investors have been frightened off by George Osborne’s go slow agenda.
“This Budget could unlock billions of pounds for clean infrastructure and innovation, but only if Mr Osborne makes it clear to investors that the UK’s long-term climate change goals are a safe bet.”
Notes to Editors:
1. A Friends of the Earth briefing ahead of the Budget is available at: Tinyurl.com/2014budgetfoe
2. "… We are seeing more abnormal weather events. Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is.” David Cameron, January 2014; “I'm someone who believes climate change is happening, that it's caused by human beings. We should do what we can to prevent it and if we can't prevent then mitigate against it for example by building flood defences... [but] let's try and do this in as cheap a possible way as we can.” George Osborne, February 2014.