From the TUC

Proof there is no Plan B?

08 Mar 2011, by in Economics, Environment

You might wonder why government hurriedly issues a Carbon Plan two weeks after the first meeting of the Green Economy Council, but didn’t share this plan with Council members? Or why announce today 1,000 green apprenticeships for homes insulation with no obvious new funding stream?  Or why it re-tell £1billion funding for a carbon capture project, when a decision is no nearer? Could there really be no Plan B for growth?

Worryingly, the Carbon Plan isn’t a plan for green jobs. And it lacks detail on energy prices: how much consumers will pay for a market-led, low carbon strategy.

But let’s be clear. The 1,000 Green Deal apprenticeships announced separately today are much needed and welcome. But without public funding (not mentioned in the Carbon Plan), this may be another false dawn. Last December, the Environment Secretary cut £500m from the Warm Front homes insulation budget. Its replacement, the Green Deal, won’t start for 18 months and funding details are still not decided – as is clear in the DECC briefing. We really hope that the government intends to secure real apprenticeships, perhaps restoring homes insulation funding in the March 2011 Budget, rather than offer false hopes to the unemployed when a million young people are out of work.

Or take carbon capture, arguably the key new technology for a low carbon energy supply. We are concerned, as is the CBI today, at the snail’s pace progress in announcing a winner of the  carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition. Reading the Carbon Plan, we are none the wiser. If successful (we believe it can be), CCS can deliver huge CO2 savings and, say, 37,000 skilled jobs in the UK.  But December 2011? It seems that all the government has achieved today is announce another year’s delay before a decision is made.

And this what the CBI said about electric vehicles: “The Government is right to highlight electric vehicle infrastructure as a key part of its low-carbon transport policy, but must now unclog the local planning process for charging points and make a decision on the post-2012 phase of the consumer grants scheme.”  But no details of a new consumer incentive (the Plug-in Car Grant). As for green buses, the Plan says, “A new wave of low carbon public transport will be encouraged by the Green Bus Fund, which will incentivise bus operators and local authorities to buy new hybrid and electric vehicles, with around 170 vehicles expected to be purchased by March 2012.” 170 buses – is that really a wave? It’s the scale and speed of ambition that’s worrying. It’s enough to make you think of 26 March.