Molly Scott Cato: s the climate transition comes at us fast, the resounding question at budget time is how are we going to pay for the changes in almost all areas of our lives that sustainability demands? Every gas boiler needs to be replaced with a heat pump and most of our homes need to go through deep retrofit. We need massive investment to electrify our public transport system and make it accessible to all for the modal shift from cars to bus and rail. In the Green Party’s manifesto at the last general election we estimated that the cost of this sort of green new deal for the UK would be £100 billion a year for ten years. So, where is the money to come from? The obvious first step is to stop subsidising fossil fuels, both directly and through tax breaks on aviation fuel and commercial diesel. Reinstating the fuel duty escalator, so that petrol prices rise in line with inflation, would also bring back missing billions for investment in public transport. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that if the fuel duty escalator had been maintained, the exchequer would be getting an extra £19 billion a year. The best way to protect poorer households, and to boost the life chances of those without a car, is to invest this additional revenue in bus services. But beyond the normal tax-and-spend changes, we need to think imaginatively and find solutions to these crises. This week I was invited to sign a letter to the new governor of the Bank of England, asking him to make our monetary policy appropriate for the climate emergency we are living through. The Bank creates some of our currency by buying company assets, including of fossil fuel companies. So I was delighted that following this request by Positive Money, the New Economics Foundation and others, Andrew Bailey agreed with the Treasury select committee that the Bank’s portfolio should reflect the government’s commitment to carbon neutrality.
Times 11th March 2020 read more »
The Budget must undo the Tories’ most damaging climate policies. Described as a “litmus test” on the climate crisis, the Budget today will have to break with the past quite dramatically to show ministers are serious about taking action. The Committee on Climate Change, the statutory body that advises the UK government on its climate change policy, says the UK is on course to miss its next milestone and that “policy ambition and implementation now fall well short of what is required”.
Independent 11th March 2020 read more »