Budget 2020: IEMA reaction

12th March 2020

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Alastair Yule

Sustainability body IEMA has questioned whether UK chancellor Rishi Sunak's first budget reflects the urgency of the climate and environmental emergency.

A record £5.2bn of investment was unveiled for flood defences over six years in the budget, while a tax loophole for red diesel will be removed for most sectors in two years' time.

A tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content will come into force in April 2022, while £500m was announced to support the rollout of a super-fast electric vehicle charging network.

Moreover, a £640m 'nature for climate fund' will see tree planting increase by 600% in England, while government research and development (R&D) will rise by a record £22bn.

The budget also earmarked £800m for carbon capture and storage (CCS) to establish at least two sites by 2030.

However, the chancellor confirmed that fuel duty would be frozen for the tenth consecutive year, while £27bn of investment was also unveiled for road projects between now and 2025.

IEMA chief policy advisor Martin Baxter said: “While IEMA welcomes the significant commitments announced in Budget 2020, questions remain over whether this reflects the urgency of tackling the climate and environmental emergency.

“Additional investments in flood resilience and R&D, a new nature for climate fund and two new CCS hubs will help to put sustainability at the heart of the UK's economy.

“However, freezing fuel duty and the absence of measures to tackle energy efficiency in the home are missed opportunities to accelerate the transition to net zero.“

The chancellor said that drivers will never be more than 30 miles away from a rapid charger for electric vehicles under his plans, and that flood defences will better protect 336,000 properties.

He also launched a new £100m scheme to help households and small businesses invest in low-carbon heating systems, and a consultation on introducing a 'green gas levy' to boost biomethane production for the grid.

In addition, a £9.2m funding package to introduce smart waste tackling and schemes to tackle fly-tipping was unveiled, along with £300m of additional investment to improve air quality.

WWF UK chief executive Tanya Steele said: “The chancellor's commitment to restoring nature, and the initial spending announcements on how he plans to achieve it, are a positive step forward, but we're relying on the upcoming spending review to deliver more if we are to achieve net zero and restore nature.“

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