“The real message in government announcements can often be understood by absence, as opposed to the posturing and hyperbole at the dispatch box. Budget 2017 brought no direct mentions of climate change, air quality or energy, nor reference to the Emissions Reduction Plan. The 25-Year Environment Plan was also overlooked, as were the levels to which we will adhere to European environmental legislation in our post-Brexit world. All this in the same week, as the World Health Organization has said air pollution is “one of the most pernicious threats” facing global public health today, on scale much bigger than HIV or Ebola.
“At a time when greentech should be coming to the fore, oil & gas operators were given ‘unprecedented support’, via tax incentives. Furthermore, businesses who invested in solar panels to generate energy for their own use will still see hikes of up to 800%. The opportunity to push renewables and cleantech was not grasped, with worrying echoes of Trump’s growing support for fossil fuels.
“There was a £270m investment to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies and £690m to tackle urban congestion, while the small print pointed to a spring air quality consultation. All welcome, if a little undercooked. However, the depth of dismay within the green business sector shouldn’t be overplayed, as we’ve become accustomed to hope and anguish being replaced by resignation in a lack of green bite by successive Chancellors.”