A good deal more green
This isn’t a green new deal, but the Chancellor has dealt a few green cards. £535 million in new investment plus money brought forward for environmental projects is likely to be jobs-rich – in homes insulation and central heating packages, train making and flood defences.
- The £150 million Warm Front package (including £100 million of new money) benefiting an extra 60,000 low income householders and energy efficiency businesses across the UK – local jobs for local people.
- 200 new carriages costing £300 million – rail unions were anticipating good news on train-making – but now the Government has to ensure they are made in the UK!
Should the energy companies now be very afraid of price regulation? The Chancellor wants energy companies to link the current downturn in wholesale energy prices to the retail price of gas and electricity. Legislation is threatened if they don’t deal with “unfair pricing differentials on methods of payment”. But actions speak louder than words. We’ll be watching with interest to see if action is taken to deal with the fleecing of the fuel poor using pre-payments meters.
Unions who had been worried about the jobs impact of the proposed tax on planeloads rather than travelers will be relieved that the Government is instead planning a more radical version of Air Passenger Duty. Its four distance bands from 1 November 2009 include a new top rate of £55 for a standard fare.
And extending the Renewables Obligation well into 2037 is surely going to underpin investor confidence and help build low carbon industries, perhaps more than any single measure announced today. We also welcome the proposal for a low carbon skills forum.
Any green trade unionist would wish for a much stronger green economic stimulus. This might not be the green new deal we hope for but it includes some green steps forward. Just last week the Chancellor sold emission permits for £55 million- the start of what will be massive new revenue stream. We’ve called for the hypothecation of these green revenues to support renewable energy and energy efficiency. For now, the Treasury sees this as general revenue in. We want more green cash out.