Reviewing Budgets From an Environmental Perspective

I used to review each UK budget for its impact on the environment. Governments would be keen to announce a series of measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or to save energy or to any of the myriad things that should be done or could be done to protect what we have now for our descendants.

Generally my reviews found that there was little of substance and a great deal of posturing and blather. We had announcements for measures to create a market in carbon, which measures were supposed to be so helpful to the environment that no other measures – such as solar water heating – could be countenanced in case they interfered with the flagship policy of carbon credits. These days we only hear about carbon credits when they are used as an engine of fraud; the price of carbon is so low as to create no incentive for businesses or people to reduce their emissions.

There have been other policies which made a great deal of noise at the time but now lie forgotten. Who now remembers the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change which served no purpose except to gather dust on shelves or take up bytes on servers, and of course to ennoble its author. Who now remembers the concept of Zero Carbon Homes, created by a politician as a catchy concept – so catchy in fact that the 2008 budget exempted homes from Stamp Duty Land Tax that were Zero carbon.

The same budget threatened to eliminate single use plastic bags if the supermarkets did not take action. In England these single use plastic bags are still with us, six years later. Gosh, there was even to be a carbon budget, alongside the financial and fiscal budget!

Today every politician pays lip service to climate change; floods droughts and extreme weather events simply increase the lips paying service. No politician can grasp the nettle that if we are to avoid climate change creating a future planet that is uninhabitable by humans we must restrict economic growth. But economic growth is the mantra of everyone because it is believed that economic growth will make us all prosperous and increased prosperity is a good thing.

I shall not bother to review today’s budget from an environmental perspective. Sooner or later the environment will inevitably be the main factor that drives economies and shapes budgets all over the world. I hope that it will be sooner and fear that if it is later it will be too late.

2 Responses

  1. I was speaking to our local farmer who sells us potatoes, yesterday he was visited by a DEFRA officer/agent to look over his stock movement register.

    In an attempt at cutting back their carbon footprint, their particular department has cut back on company cars, the lady in question took a North East Metro train from her home 5 miles north of Newcastle into the Newcastle train station, where she then boarded another train into Darlington,… on arrival at Darlington train station she took a bus into Barnard castle and then another bus from Barnard Castle to her destination high in the Tees Valley, on alighting the bus she then had to walk the last mile and a half to the farm.

    The officer was at the farm around half and hour and then made her way back to the bus stop to make the return journey, for which she was paid a days wages and only had the time to do this one inspection.

    She got her carbon register down by 3 miles on foot, this is a true story by the way, good on you DEFRA, for cleaning up your act.

  2. Abracadabra, Cardo.

    The doors are opening.

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