U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborneâ€™s statement that his new budget â€œputs the next generation firstâ€ isnâ€™t enough to protect subsequent generations from the consequences of climate change, critics said.
Just three months after the U.K. joined 195 other countries in a climate deal in a bid to restrain rising global temperatures by curbing emissions, Osborneâ€™s budget cut taxes on the oil and gas industry and preserved a freeze on fuel taxes for motorists.
He also scrapped a carbon tax for businesses like Tesco Plc and raised a climate change levy that applies to electricity from renewables as well as from fossil fuels.
â€œThis climate-wrecking budget shows that the governmentâ€™s talk of putting the next generation first is nothing short of sheer hypocrisy,â€ said Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party lawmaker.
â€œThis budget locks us into fossil fuel dependency and completely contradicts the Prime Ministerâ€™s call to action at the Paris climate talks. His plans to cut tax for North Sea oil and gas â€” rather than investing in a just transition away from fossil fuels â€” are myopic and dangerous.â€
At the Paris talks in December, PM David Cameron gave a speech in which he imagined leaders telling their grandchildren why they had failed to arrest climate change.
â€œInstead of making excuses tomorrow to our children and grandchildren, we should be taking action against climate change today,â€ he said.
The net effect of scrapping the carbon tax and increasing the climate change levy is to raise Â£460 million for the government by March 2021, according to Treasury documents.
The freeze in fuel duty for a sixth successive year will save the average driver Â£75, Osborne said.
â€œThe budget is remarkable not so much for whatâ€™s in it, but for whatâ€™s not,â€ said Ecotricity Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Dale Vince. â€œThe chancellor forgot to mention a little thing called climate change.â€
Osborne did offer some encouragement to those who support carbon reductions, by saying the government will auction Â£730 million of electricity contracts to offshore wind and other less-advanced renewable energy technologies during the current 5-year Parliamentary term. The first auction later this year will total Â£290 million, according to the Treasury.
â€œThe budget is tight but weâ€™re up for the challenge,â€ said Maf Smith, deputy chief executive officer of the ReneweableUK lobby group. â€œWeâ€™re confident that todayâ€™s announcement will deliver 3.5 gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity between 2021 and 2025.â€