The UK supports green investment plans

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Julie Hirigoyen
Energy and Sustainability Services, UK

The nation’s mounting X Factor fever is nothing compared to what the UK’s ‘green’ community was feeling as we waited for last week’s Comprehensive Spending Review. George Osborne’s performance would probably not have won over Simon Cowell but there were some welcome surprises in the Chancellor’s plans. Defying all predictions that the worst of the cuts would be turned against green investment plans, environmental spend was carefully positioned as underpinning the “growth” principle – or as our Prime Minister coined it to the CBI yesterday, the “new economic dynamism”.

Obsorne announced a number of measures in support of the transition to a low-carbon economy:

–  £1bn towards a world leading carbon capture and storage facility.
–  Over £200 million directly invested in renewable technologies such as wind farms.
–  £860 million of new finance to support the renewable heat incentive.
–  No reduction in Feed-in Tariffs although some refocusing on the most cost effective carbon abatement technologies.
–  Further support for the take up of low carbon vehicles and better quality high speed transport links.
–  The “Green Deal” to enable households to improve their energy efficiency at no upfront cost, repaying loans through energy bill savings.
–  The much anticipated Green Investment Bank also made it past the Treasury cuts, albeit with limited teeth to begin with.

Last but not least in the Chancellor’s repertoire was the alleged simplification of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme by removing the recycling payment back to participants. The policy instrument now looks more like a straight tax on carbon, with initial payments being deferred twelve months until Spring/Summer 2012. While the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Environment Agency are busily trying to figure out the precise implications of the announcements, it’s clear that real estate owners will be subject to higher financial burdens for their carbon liabilities and further incentivised to reduce their energy consumption.

So, no standing ovation from the green community, but certainly a performance that will get the Chancellor into the next round.

Check out the latest Global Sustainability Perspective.

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