Spending review: the industry responds

Chancellor Sajid Javid’s first spending review provided little for the energy industry or for the decarbonisation or ‘net zero’ carbon emisisons agenda.

For BEIS it promised an additional £30 million to accelerate progress on developing decarbonisation schemes that will help to move the UK towards its Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050. The chancellor promised detail on this in a new National Infrastructure Strategy planned for the autumn. 

For DFID, it promised at least £250 million to  international climate and environment funds – including the Green Climate Fund – to limit global warming  and help developing countries prepare for its impacts.

Mike Clancy, general secretary, Prospect, said: “With the world facing a climate crisis and our biodiversity under pressure there was a lot Sajid Javid could have done in is spending review to reassure the country that we were taking this threat seriously – it fell somewhat short. The government has made much of its commitment to the environment and biodiversity, but this has not been matched with resources, with Defra spending set to be almost 40% lower than 2010 once Brexit spending is stripped out. It must go much further, including by funding the agencies such as Natural England that enforce our environmental regulations, as called for its chair Tony Juniper. Above all it is essential that resources are used to provide a decent above inflation pay rise for these workers who have seen consistent real terms pay cuts since 2010 and are coming under increasing pressure due to staff shortages.

“Especially disappointing is the lack of funding for action on achieving Net Zero, with the £30m committed to this urgent national priority not even matching the money spent on the 2020 Olympics.”

Martin Baxter, chief policy advisor, IEMA, said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s allocation of additional funding for tackling air pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.  However, it is essential that comprehensive policies and plans are put in place to deliver the net-zero 2050 carbon target and to establish a framework of environmental governance through the Environment Bill as part of the transition to a sustainable economy. These are needed to give confidence for private sector investment in improvements and against which the level of public sector spending can be determined. At a time when public concern about climate change is at a record level, reducing carbon emissions and enhancing climate resilience needs to be integrated into all government spending decisions.”

Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group, said: “… today’s announcements do little to put the UK on track to achieve its environmental and climate ambitions. If the government is serious about these commitments, it needs to put in place comprehensive plans to deliver them. This requires in particular an ambitious Environment Bill that sets long-term environmental improvement targets and is backed up by properly funded delivery policies. It also requires a detailed update to the Clean Growth Strategy to increase policy ambition in areas such as buildings, transport and industrial decarbonisation to put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions.”

Mike Childs, head of policy, Friends of the Earth, said:  “This spending review completely undermines the government’s commitment to taking the climate and biodiversity crisis seriously. Measures to cut climate-wrecking pollution, boost nature and clean up our filthy air have been starved of investment for far too long – they need far more than the few financial crumbs offered by the Chancellor today. Today’s announcement falls a long way short of the £42 billion needed every year to tackle the Planetary emergency. “

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