Public spending squeeze hitting green economy
One of the biggest green downers of the coalition government so far is turning the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme “into a money-making scheme for the government and an administrative burden to participants.” Labour’s scheme designed to encourage businesses to reduce their emissions, by recycling the revenues to good performers, is now a £1bn annual tax, says ENDS in its annual consutlants’ survey.
Public spending cuts – and surely, green taxes like this – are harming the UK’s environmental progress and tarnishing the government’s green image.
The public spending squeeze is hampering green progress most, undermining the government’s aim of being the ‘greenest ever’ and harming business prospects. More than 50 organisations responded to the annual survey. The squeeze is directly hitting the growth prospects of three fifths of them. The effects on the wider green agenda are deeper still. When asked to evaluate the austerity drive’s impact on green progress, three quarters of respondents were pessimistic.
The comments of Alan Ryder, chief executive and chairman of RSK, were typical: “The austerity drive will cause government and local authorities to cut out spending on green initiatives that they had planned,” he said. “It is likely to stop them making any significant reductions in their own carbon footprint.”
Paul Ashley, Mott MacDonald’s group practice manager for sustainability, said that cuts to public transport subsidies, the virtual elimination of transport planning by local government and project cancellation were already undermining green progress.
The most widely criticised initiatives were the changes to feed-in tariffs and the conversion of the CRC to a green tax. When asked to identify its main green policy advances so far, just two fifths of survey respondents cited any policy at all.