Spring Budget 2017, the Content Coms analysis: truth versus hope for the UK low carbon lobby


Our green business expert Giles Crosse reacts to today’s Budget.

As ever, the Spring Budget represents a chance for green, low carbon business to really ramp up pace for the year ahead.

But, ‘With the Treasury’s purse strings expected to remain securely tightened ahead of the crunch Brexit discussions, it is feared that the most likely outcome of this Budget will be sustainability issues placed on the back-burner, at least until the upcoming long-term plans for emissions reduction and the environment,’edie writes.

Can the Chancellor’s gifts match any expectations? Pre-Budget, edie was hoping for the following:

  • Carbon Price Floor tax extension; environmental campaigners were hoping for a positive announcement on the Carbon Price Floor.
  • Assistance for low carbon transport.
  • Levy Control Framework; the future of the Levy Control Framework should be set out in the 2017 Spring Budget.
  • Emissions Reduction Plan; alluded to in a CBI report last week, business will be looking to the forthcoming Emissions Reduction Plan to provide a clear and long-term framework so that they can invest and innovate for the future. Chancellor Hammond can provide a much-need confidence boost by outlining how the Plan, along with the Government’s upcoming Industrial Strategy, will include policies to support the decarbonisation of industries and buildings.
  • Assurances on post-Brexit regulation; with more than 70% of the UK’s environmental laws deriving from Brussels, it will be crucial to see a firm commitment from the Government to continue to uphold key EU environmental legislation, regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

What we actually got:

‘The words “energy”, “climate change” and “air quality” were not mentioned at all by Hammond in his hour-long speech,’ edie wearily announced.

  • Carbon pricing, the tool Government uses to decarbonise the power sector, will continue. In 2021/22, rates for how the tool works will be declared, with more detail coming in the Autumn Budget this year.
  • The Levy Control Framework (LCF) which aims to keep the cost of decarbonising UK PLC down, will be replaced by a new set of controls detailed later this year.
  • There’s a hint more support for North Sea oil and gas is coming, which won’t please the low carbon lobby.
  • The Emissions Reduction Plan didn’t get a mention and is probably delayed until the Autumn. As are more details on a 25-Year Environment Plan.
  • edie writes, ‘Other things that were missed from the 2017 Budget; actions to boost energy efficiency, reinvigorating the renewable heat market, Green Investment Bank privatisation, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.
  • The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will have an initial investment of £270 million in 2017-18 to look at disruptive tech including batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles, and there is investment of £300 million to further develop the UK’s research talent, including through an additional 1,000 PhD places.

But there was no specific announcement of decarbonisation spend for energy tech for example, or further explicit support for energy efficiency, despite the Budget promise to invest in cutting-edge technology and innovation.

All in all, this Budget is a pretty damp squib for low carbon. There is promised R&D and teaching emphasis which could help the sector. LCF reviews could also grow low carbon. But there’s no explicit move on energy efficiency or news that offers concrete financing support overall.

And, there was nothing on Brexit and environmental regulation. The only mentions of the EU essentially said Government couldn’t forecast concretely on what leaving the EU means financially.

As usual, Government’s stance remains opaque on key issues for low carbon.

 


Content Coms is one of the UK’s leading B2B communications consultancies specialising in the energy, low carbon and technology sectors. If you’ve enjoyed our article, how about reading more of our energy news and analysis?


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