Autumn budget delivers ‘mixed’ environmental action

Philip Hammond unveiled a “mixed diet” of environmental and sustainability measures in his autumn budget yesterday, with fairly little action on climate change.

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That is the verdict of sustainability body IEMA, which described Hammond’s decision not to progress with a ‘latte tax’ on disposable plastic cups as a “missed opportunity”.

The chancellor also announced yesterday that fuel duties would be frozen in the UK for a ninth successive year, and that there would be £30bn invested in England's roads.

However, a new tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content was welcomed by IEMA, as was £10m earmarked for tackling abandoned waste sites.

“But we need to see how this fits into the broader resources and waste strategy, and the longer-term goal of zero-avoidable plastic waste by 2042,” IEMA chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, said.

“An additional £10m for tackling abandoned waste sites is a welcome move and may help to addresses developing climate risks like flooding, but elsewhere, the budget was rather light on climate change action.”

The budget also includes £20m of support for local authorities to help them meet their air quality obligations, and allocates £13m to tackle risks from floods and climate change.

An Industrial Energy Transformation Fund will receive £315m of investment to help businesses improve their energy efficiency, and a consultation on support for smaller companies will be opened.

The government has also put aside £20m for research into tackling plastics and boosting recycling, while £15m will help salvage an estimated 250 million meals worth of wasted food.

The UK’s fishing sector will receive around £12m to boost “safe, sustainable and productive fishing”, and the government also announced that it would purchase up to £50m of carbon credits to support tree planting.

“We welcome funding for tree planting linked to a woodland carbon guarantee scheme – this is notable as a move towards a ‘payment for ecosystem services’ approach,” Baxter continued.

“IEMA members may be delighted to see commitments to skills development, research and scientific investments, and we look forward to understanding more about the specifics.” 

 
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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