Budget 2021: green groups heavily criticise Rishi Sunak’s announcements ahead of COP26

With the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow just days away, the Chancellor came under fire for a lack of green policies in his Budget

With the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow just days away, Rishi Sunak was expected go big on green spending in his Autumn Budget 2021.

But instead, the Chancellor delivered a speech light on environmental policies that included a tax cut for domestic flyers and a continued freeze on fuel duty for motorists.

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The lack of climate-focused policy drew an instant backlash from Shadow Business SecretaryEd Miliband, who Tweeted: “No green recovery, no plan to save families £400 on bills, no plan for green steel. Working people will pay the price of Tory climate delay.”

Meanwhile, Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote that there was “a climate-shaped hole at the heart of this [budget]”.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, Rishi Sunak defended himself.

“We are taking action to mitigate climate emissions but in the short term I want to protect people from rises in fuel duty because I want to help them with the cost of living.”

What did green groups say?

Greenpeace criticised the Chancellor for not speaking about climate change enough in his Budget speech.

“The climate emergency should have been the centrepiece of this spending review ahead of the most critical UK-hosted climate talks in years, but Sunak spent more time discussing duty on domestic cider,” said head of politics at Greenpeace UK Rebecca Newsom.

“The Chancellor appears to have delivered just 5% of what’s needed to roll out green homes, clean transport, nature protection and support for workers to transition to green jobs, and is actively making things worse by making it cheaper to fly between UK cities.

“He’s missed the memo that an increase in green investment would not just lower carbon emissions and energy bills, but would also boost jobs and productivity, as well as the Government’s credibility at the climate talks.

“Each year proper funding for real climate action is delayed, the worse the climate crisis will get and the more costly it will become - both in monetary terms and for peoples’ lives.”

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said fast-tracking the shift to a net zero UK economy should have been at the centre of the Budget, but climate change “hardly featured”.

“With only days to go before Boris Johnson hosts crucial talks in Glasgow, this financial announcement was shockingly bad, and will do little to show his Government recognises the enormity of the climate crisis we face,” he said.

Meanwhile, Luke Murphy, head of think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research’s (IPPR) Environmental Justice Commission, said the cut to domestic air passenger duty was the only part of the Budget speech that would impact CO2 emissions – and it would increase them.

“The truth is, this climate-void, fossil fuel-heavy budget failed to deliver the necessary £30 billion of investment needed each year to meet our climate and nature targets.

“Investing in a green economy would have been the fiscally responsible thing to do, avoiding the huge costs of inaction, and maximising the benefits and opportunities of the transition.

“Our research shows that 1.7 million jobs could be created by 2035 in sectors from transport to home retrofit and low carbon electricity.”

It wasn’t just environmentalists who were critical about the lack of green announcements.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) described the lack of focus on net-zero funding as a “missed opportunity”.

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