UK government spending unable to deliver climate promises, WWF warns

The UK government is spending far more on policies that will drive up emissions than it is on tackling climate change, analysis by the WWF has uncovered.


Published today, the findings show that only £145m was directed towards climate change mitigation in the March 2021 budget, while £40bn went towards policies that will drive up emissions, such as the fuel duty freeze.

Overall, the WWF found that the government is spending just 0.01% of GDP on tackling climate change, despite its own advisors estimating that investment of around 1% of GDP per year is needed to deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.

The charity said that the March 2021 budget “doesn’t add up” when it comes to the government delivering on its climate promises, and said that spending is falling “far short” of what is required to deliver net zero.

This comes just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that global temperatures are set to hit 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within 20 years, a decade earlier than previously forecast.

“With nature in freefall and the climate in crisis, the clock is ticking for the planet, as the latest IPCC reports makes clear,” said Isabella O’Dowd, head of climate change at the WWF. “It’s not yet too late to prevent global warming from rising above 1.5°C – it is in our hands. 

“But to do that, the UK government must play its part by keeping every climate promise it has made. The latest budget simply doesn’t add up to the cleaner, greener future we all want to see.”

The findings are the product of a new 'budget tagging tool' from the WWF, which enables tracking of UK government spending on green policies.

This was launched after analysis from the cross-party think tank Policy Connect found that the UK government has fully met or partially met just 61 out of 135  policy recommendations by the Climate Change Committee.

Meanwhile, new YouGov polling, commissioned by the WWF, has found that 68% of British adults are not confident that the government will deliver on its target to slash emissions by 78% by 2035.

“To turn things around, ministers must close the gap between their climate commitments and their spending plans, by adopting a net-zero test for all government spending ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 climate summit in November,” O’Dowd said.

“We won’t forget the government’s climate promises and, together with our supporters, we will hold government to account for delivering on them.”


Image credit: iStock

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