Darling urged to announce green Budget

Environmental campaigners have raised concerns that the 2008 Budget will shy away from the tough environmental measures they say are necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.

It is feared that Chancellor Alistair Darling, who will make his first budget speech on Wednesday, will put strengthening the economy following the credit crunch ahead of green measures.

Campaigners have called on Government to use financial incentives to reduce UK dependence on cars and boost renewable energy to reduce the impact of climate change.

Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor for Greenpeace UK, said the organisation believed Mr Darling would put the economy first.

He told edie: “I think it’s quite likely to happen. It’s incredibly short-sighted.

“What the Treasury should have learnt from the Stern report is that the longer we wait to respond to climate change, the more it will cost to do it.”

He said the organisation would like to see Mr Darling announce measures such as the introduction of feed-in tariffs for small-scale energy generation and more funding for research and development of renewables, particularly marine energy.

The day before the announcement, Friends of the Earth urged Government to announce a comprehensive programme of energy efficiency as a dual solution to fuel poverty and climate change, partly funded by a £5bn windfall tax on energy companies.

Ed Matthew, the organisation’s low-carbon homes campaigner, said: “The only permanent solution to fuel poverty is high levels of energy efficiency.”

Their contemporaries in Scotland said Mr Darling should put climate change at the heart of the Budget and increase fuel duty to discourage motorists.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Chief executive Duncan McLaren said: “It’s time for the Chancellor to put sustainability at the centre of the Budget and begin a major green tax shift.”

The Renewable Energy Association said the Budget should close the “chasm between climate rhetoric and practical action” by upping its spending to the 1% of GDP recommended by the Stern report.

It also repeated its call for a feed-in tariff for small-scale energy generation, and recommended the roll out of smart metering to all homes and a programme to refit existing buildings for on-site renewables.

Kate Martin

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