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Budget focus on low carbon technology and energy efficiency to be welcomed - but must be part of long-term strategy

22 April 2009

The Sustainable Development Commission welcomed the Budget announcement of £495million of additional funding for low carbon technologies and energy efficiency over the next two years, and called for this to be part of a committed, long-term strategy to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

But the Commission questioned the announcement of a £2,000discount on new cars for motorists scrapping cars over 10 years old, arguing that under such a scheme, the cost per tonne of CO2 saved is very high. It also criticised the fact that no emissions requirements are attached to new vehicles.

Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, said:

“The transition to a low-carbon economy is the most urgent challenge facing the government – both economically and environmentally; and achieving this calls for a long-term commitment. While we welcome the investment announced in today’s Budget, this spending ceases two years from now, and its scale not going to put us on track to achieving the extremely ambitious targets of the Climate Change Act and its associated carbon budgets.”

The scale of green spending announced today falls far short of the £30bn a year for the next three years called for by the Sustainable Development Commission in its recent Sustainable New Deal. The report argued that only a commitment on this scale can ensure a globally-competitive, low carbon future for the UK. It argued that more than 50% of such a package would generate significant financial returns within two to three years, and could create at least 800,000 jobs.

Jonathon Porritt said: “An investment strategy of the kind we have called for would create appropriate incentives for both the private and public sector, and would demonstrate the kind of unequivocal leadership that UK citizens are now ready for.”

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