5 March 2021 — DesSmogUK
This year’s spring budget was like the worst kind of meal: A lot of fanfare before it, yet in the tasting rather bland, leaving much to be desired.
There were crumbs to be had. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans for the “world’s first” green bond, designed to give UK savers the chance to buy bonds which help support green projects, and gave the Bank of England a new mandate to align with the government’s net zero target.
Less appetising was the galling lack of attention paid to the climate – just months before the UK hosts two critical global summits: the G7 in Cornwall, and the UN’s climate talks in Glasgow. As Fatima Ibrahim from campaign group Green New Deal UK noted: “Our response to the climate crisis should have been front and centre of the budget, not a footnote.”
Signs of the “Green Industrial Revolution”, much championed last year, were nowhere to be seen, especially in the freezing of fuel duty for the 11th consecutive year. Climate researchers have foundthat raising fuel duty on polluting petrol could be one of the most effective ways to combat climate change – but every year there is a whole lot of vocal opposition to raising the tax.
This week, DeSmog reported how a diverse group of vested interests lobbied against the hike in the run-up to this spring budget, from Fair Fuel UK – a lobby group which campaigns against charges and taxes on UK motorists – to the RAC and Petrol Retailers Association (PRA). There was also opposition from several Conservative MPs, and a sustained media campaign from the Daily Express and The Sun – who appear to have paused their recent green campaigns to push for the fuel duty freeze.
Freezing fuel duty may be politically expedient, but it signals that the government’s commitment to tackling climate change is only skin-deep. Rishi may have nailed the presentation side of green growth, but the real proof is in the pudding.
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