Green agenda for 2009 Budget

Pressure is mounting on Alistair Darling to make the environment central to his budget announcement next week.

The under-pressure chancellor of the exchequer is rumoured to be planning to raise public borrowing close to £175bn over the next two years - creating the biggest public deficit since World War Two.

However, George Osborne, the Conservative shadow chancellor, has called for green issues to take centre stage.

He's outlined a series of measures including £6,500 energy efficient entitlement for every home in Britain, funding at least three carbon capture and storage pilots and a national recharging network for electric cars.

Mr Osbourne also highlighted plans for beginning work on a new high-speed rail network, the creation of an 'electricity internet' and, amongst several other schemes introducing a network of marine energy parks.

He said: "The Budget is not just an opportunity to help people now, it's also a chance to chart a new course for the future."

The plans would, according to Mr Osbourne, unleash £30 billion of new private sector investment, without adding a penny to the national debt. It would lay the path to a greener future. And it would help build a future economy where we save and invest for tomorrow instead of borrow and spend for today."

John Sauven, Greenpeace's executive director, backed the shadow chancellors calls, he said: "The budget must start delivering a low carbon economy to create jobs and reduce climate change emissions.

"The two must go hand-in-hand. If this budget contains mechanisms that will make this happen, rather than more vague promises, it could be the start of a 'green revolution'."

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) published earlier this week said without a rapid expansion of offshore wind capacity the UK will struggle to achieve its legally-binding target of 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

It also said without greater government support, the opportunity to create up to 70,000 long-term jobs in parts of the country where they are needed, and its associated export potential, would also be lost.

Luke Walsh

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