Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The UK's new 'green' spending budget

This lunchtime marked the announcement of UK government's spending budget, which was widely anticipated to be the "green" budget. And as promised, our Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, focused the budget on cutting carbon emissions from homes, businesses and transport.
Describing tackling global warming as "our greatest obligation to future generations, the Chancellor announced new targets to make all new non-domestic building zero-carbon by 2019. The pledge comes on top of the existing goal for all UK homes to have no net carbon emission by 2016, saying it could save 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years.

Other targets set included:

  • All new public sector buildings to be zero-carbon by 2018. Smart meters will also be rolled out to medium and large companies over the next five years in a bid to encourage them to save energy.

  • On the domestic front, there will be £26 million for the Green Homes Service next year to help people cut carbon and fuel bills.

  • Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets introduced next month will require energy companies to improve efficiency in their customers' properties, with cavity wall insulation for nearly three million homes along with loft insulation, energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.
  • On transport, new bands of vehicle excise duty from 2009 will reward the drivers of the cleanest cars and the new per-plane tax, to come into effect in November 2009, will increase by 10% in the second year of operation.

Despite these targets sounding great, within minutes of delivering his Budget the Chancellor came under fire from environmentalists who claimed he was tinkering in the margins and had "dropped the ball" on climate change.

The budget was criticised on blogs such as The Guardian's comment is free that "when the construction industry turns its attention to the target of zero carbon in non-domestic buildings by 2019, probably some time in 2018, it will be far too late to make any difference in avoiding global warming tipping points, in heading off the third great global energy crisis, or the needless deaths of tens of thousands of grans and grandads."

I have no idea of the comparable laws being passed in the rest of the world... please comment on this post and let me know and exchange your views.

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