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The Green Budget April 22, 2009

Posted by letitiahughes in environment.

Well the much anticipated budget has finally arrived. It was all hyped up to be about all things environmental, but although there were some good points, I don’t think it quite lived up to the billing. Key green ideas were CCS technology and combined heat and power. There was a lot of support for renewable energy, especially for off shore wind.

Overall, I do have to agree with John Sauven from Greenpeace who said that there was some positive announcements in the budget but a lack of ambition. He said that: “Ministers tell us climate change is the great challenge of our time, but the money found for renewables and energy efficiency is only marginally more than Mr Darling found earlier this year for RBS bonuses”.

So what about some of the detail? I think that Carbon Capture and storage should really be explored, but again agree with Sauven that there needs to be strong regulations preventing the energy companies building regular coal plants with CCS experiments on the side.

Electric cars are another key part of the budget. It is really important that these cars are charged from renewable energy, like off shore wind, rather than coal power if we want to maximise the energy savings.

Combined heat and power plants’ (CHP) exemption from the Climate Change Levy was another good idea in the budget, that has the potential to provide huge benefits. Sauven said that: “Half of our energy needs and nearly half of our emissions come from heat use, so this extension of an exemption for CHP is sound policy. Normal power stations waste two-thirds of the energy put into them in the form of wasted heat, so anything that kick-starts heat capture at power plants would dramatically decrease emissions and improve energy security.”

Friends of the Earth have been  more negative in their response to the budget. They said that Alistair Darling has squandered a huge opportunity to create a low-carbon economy and create thousands of green jobs by investing in renewable energy and cutting energy waste on the scale required.

 I think there is no need to be negative. We just need to aim now to really take hold of these good green initiatives and run with them. We need to show what can be done, and maximise the opportunities. The carbon budget is all very well and good, but we need to make sure that we actually hit the target.   This will ensure that we remain a world leader on climate change.


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