With this government claiming to be the greenest ever and this week being national energy saving week, how has the environment fared in the spending cuts?
Whilst on the whole the spending cuts were a mixed bag, there is positive news as the government have give the go-ahead for a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). 47 MPs turned up to support our call for a strong RHI, which will encourage more clean, green heat for homes and businesses across the country.
However, the Warm Front programme, which provides insulation and energy efficiency, will be cut and will hit the most vulnerable hardest unless there is an ambitious Green New Deal programme. Combined with the immediate review of fuel poverty targets and cuts to bus services, this will hit people already struggling on low incomes. Energy efficiency programmes should be stepped up and not cut back, whilst not only insulating the homes of poorer families they also act as very strong job creators.
“Slashing energy-efficiency grants to some of the UK’s most vulnerable people will send a chill into many homes – while cutting £300m from buses will devastate services that the poorest rely on most.”
-Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth
“The Government needs to invest in the transition to a low carbon economy in order to create new jobs, improve energy security and boost the economy.”
-Joe Peacock, Birmingham Friends of the Earth
The Chancellor has clearly re-committed in his 20 October speech to introducing a Green Investment Bank. Unfortunately, only £1 billion was promised, and that not till 2013. Figures in the range of £4- 6 billion are needed and although promise of revenues from the sale of assets is welcome, it is uncertain how much would be raised, and when. A Green Investment Bank is critical to the UK’s low-carbon future, however, it needs more money and needs to happen fast. Click here to take action.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) policy has been delayed for a year, an overhaul which is welcomed. The old CRC policy was poorly designed, bureaucratic and unfair. Energy wastes cost councils and businesses billions, and whilst in the shock of the cuts, action on energy efficiency cutting fuel bills would be beneficial to the councils, businesses and the planet.
On the whole the spending cuts were a mixed bag for the environment, but David Cameron still has the chance to prove himself in Europe. You can ask him to show his real climate credentials when European Heads of State meet this Thursday. The world needs Europe to take the lead at December’s climate talks in Cancun, and this is Cameron’s opportunity to make sure they do.