In December 2007 Alistair Darling was quoted as saying:
“Sustainability will be at the heart of the next Budget.
This is not an optional extra. It is essential for all our futures”
So was it? – well hardly, pale green, maybe, at its best – but with the focus on plastic bags – just another greenwash exercise. (I have copied the Friends of the Earth budget comment on green homes below to illustrate)
The Governments Stern Report indicates we should be spending 13billion on environmental issues right now, to avoid higher costs in the future. Environmental commentators estimate our spend to currently be 1billion
This further illustrates the priority sustainability has within this government, which may be a good thing to be aware of, as it may, hopefully, generate more communalist approaches to sustainability, that is a grass roots, do it because its the right thing to do approach. We have seen this in the US – in spite of Bush’s negative stance – the GreenBuild industry has flourished – because it makes sense.
So, time to get on and do it, we cannot afford to wait to be led by government. As Ghandi said – “be the change you want to see in the world”
Not surprising then, as Mark Lynas commented in the Guardian earlier this week (Britain is stealing the US crown of No 1 climate villian)- we are seeing protests trying to enforce government policy against the wishes of the government. A truly shaming moment for the Brown government
Friends of the Earth budget comment on green homes
The Chancellor failed to take any action to tackle the 27% of carbon emissions which come from the UK’s homes. There were no tax breaks to encourage people to install energy efficiency measures, no new money for grants to help households install renewable energy on their homes and nothing to insulate the homes of the millions suffering from fuel poverty. The Chancellor did nothing about the scandal of energy companies making an estimated £9bn in unearned profits from the free allocation of carbon emissions permits under the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Having threatened the energy companies with a windfall tax he backed down in return of a feeble promise of increasing the number of people receiving a social tariff. A Windfall Tax could have raised £5bn to insulate the homes of the fuel poor.
The £26m on green homes service is not new money.
There were no increases to the Warm Front programme of grants for energy efficiency measures for those on benefits (the Government having cut it by £250m over next three years in the October Comprehensive Spending Review : they are estimated to be treating 50,000 less homes a year as a result of cuts).
He announced “voluntary and statutory” action on pre-payment meters, phased £100m extra from energy companies for social tariffs, and increases in Winter Fuel Payments. All these are necessary measures to help people in dire need pay their bills but this is a short term solution, and much of this cash will simply be heating our skies – insulating the homes of the fuel poor and investing in energy efficiency is the crucial permanent solution to fuel poverty, and will tackle climate change at the same time.