On Tuesday, Birmingham Friends of the Earth are bringing together some top experts on sustainable economics to promote positive ideas on how to shape an economy that works for our city ahead of George Osborne’s budget statement on Wednesday.
Friends of the Earth fear that this is likely to deal a further blow to Government promises to create jobs and tackle soaring fuel bills by building a clean economy and safeguarding our environment.
The local environmental group are keen to help Birmingham achieve its ambition to become one of the most forward-thinking cities on green issues and reach its ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2026. They are proposing that even if the national government does not use the budget to help develop the low-carbon economy, there are things we can do here.
The public debate taking place on Tuesday at the Council House from 6.30pm will see four experts propose ideas for a better economy for Birmingham.
Events Coordinator Emma Jarvis said “Economic policy is just as important as any other to making Birmingham a greener city, so it’s time we really looked the best policies for a more sustainable city.
“We hope that this event will bring together people from all different walks of life to see how important economic policy is for looking after people and the environment.”
The environment charity is also urging the Prime Minister, who promised to lead the “greenest Government ever”, to ensure George Osborne keeps his pre-election pledge for “the Conservative Treasury to be in the lead of developing the low carbon economy and financing a green recovery”.
There are growing concerns that next week’s Budget will lead to:
* Little action on developing a clean, low-carbon economy.
The UK’s dependency on expensive fossil fuel imports has led to rocketing fuel bills. Developing the UK’s vast wind, wave and solar potential would create thousands of jobs and boost our energy security. But George Osborne has shown little enthusiasm for getting the UK off the fossil fuel hook – and recently inaccurately claimed that moves to boost a clean economy are responsible for driving up energy bills.
* A reduction in safeguards for wildlife and the countryside
The results of Government reviews of planning and environmental regulations are expected to be announced alongside the Budget. This could pave the way for more building in the countryside and less protection for our wildlife. George Osborne recently told MPs he wanted to make sure that “gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats” were not putting “ridiculous costs” on firms – despite little, if any, evidence to back up this claim.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigner Joe Peacock said:
“There are many reasons why the economy is struggling, but measures to protect our precious wildlife sites are not one of them.
“In fact, in a city like Birmingham, where we have high levels of fuel poverty caused by our reliance on costly fossil fuels, we must ensure this is tackled by the government switching its focus to clean British energy, which is the only way to give us affordable power in the long term.”
Notes to editors:
1. The City of the Future event is organised by Birmingham Friends of the Earth – registration for free places is on the website: https://birminghamfoe.org.uk/other/city-of-the-future
2. Tens of thousands of people have joined Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand Campaign, launched in October last year, which calls for energy we can all afford and a public inquiry into the power and influence of the Big Six energy companies: http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/final_demand2_32882.html?redir=finaldemand
3. More information on George Osborne’s promises to build a clean economy and protect the environment when in opposition – and his change of position since coming to power are available here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/retoxified.pdf
4. Friends of the Earth is urging the chancellor to use his Budget to show he is serious about building a low-carbon economy by:
* Using the money from carbon taxes to help millions of people to insulate their homes;
* Boosting the strength of the Green Investment Bank so that it can help fund the building of a low-carbon future;
* Pledging financial support to the solar subsidy scheme so that Government targets for a huge increase on solar power by the end of the decade can be achieved;
* Reform the landfill tax to encourage recycling and not wasteful incineration;
* Support for ‘green quantitative easing’ to ensure billions of pounds are invested in developing clean energy and cutting energy waste.
For more information visit: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/five_ideas.pdf
5. In a speech on 24 November 2009, George Osborne said: “I want a Conservative Treasury to be in the lead of developing the low carbon economy and financing a green recovery.”
6. Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in 2011, George Osborne claimed: “a decade of environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/georgeosborne/8804027/Conservative-Party-Conference-2011-George-Osborne-speech-in-full.html
7. Last year George Osborne told MPs he wanted to make sure that “gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats” were not putting “ridiculous costs” on firms:
8. Friends of the Earth recognises that creating the infrastructure for a low-carbon future and building affordable homes are likely to lead to more building in the countryside. Planning rules must be amended to ensure we have the right development in the right places.
9. Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to tackle rising petrol prices by developing a strategy to wean our transport system off oil. http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/fuel_duty_lobby_07032012.html
10. A report last year on the first anniversary of David Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest Government ever” is here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/green_govt_ever_07052011.html