Green Jobs: Strict limits on carbon will be a key tool

Significant measures include cash for energy efficiency and technology


As a programme for a green recovery, Alistair Darling's Budget left a lot to be desired, environmental campaigners chorused yesterday – but it still contained measures that were undeniably significant in environmental terms.

Foremost among them was the world's first carbon budget, a key climate change measure the Chancellor put in place alongside his financial changes. This was a series of strict, steadily-tightening limits on Britain's emissions of carbon dioxide between now and 2022, which, unlike measures elsewhere, are legally binding on the Government.

Laid down in five-year tranches, the national carbon budgets are the key tool for bringing down our greenhouse gas emissions towards an eventual goal of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

They are designed to help Britain meet the interim 2020 target of a 34 per cent reduction recommended by the Independent Committee on Climate Change last December, which the Government yesterday formally accepted. If world governments agree a new global climate deal at Copenhagen in December, this target is likely to be made even tighter, probably of the order of 42 per cent.

The carbon budget was part of last year's Climate Change Act and so its formal implementation yesterday did not prompt any dancing in the streets, yet it has the potential to become a significant moment in Britain's fight against global warming – a fight which could be boosted by a further set of projects announced by Mr Darling.

They included £525m of new support over the next two years for offshore wind projects, which have languished in the recession; £435m of support to deliver energy efficiency measures to homes and other buildings; and £405m to encourage low-carbon energy and advanced green manufacturing in Britain.

Furthermore, the proven energy-saving technology of combined heat and power (CHP) was given a shot in the arm with the announcement that plants using CHP will be exempt from the Climate Change Levy from 2013, while the still-to-be proven technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) was given new impetus with the announcement that the CCS demonstration plant the Government has been planning will now become two plants, and possibly even four.

Some environmentalists oppose CCS, which captures the CO2 that a coal-fired power station emits and eventually buries it underground. They claim it takes money and effort away from renewables such as wind and wave power, but for countries which are going to continue to burn large amounts of coal, such as China, CCS will be essential to keep emissions under control.

It will also be essential if Britain proceeds with a new generation of coal-fired power stations, led by the proposed plant at Kingsnorth in Kent, which awaits approval from the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband. Mr Miliband will give an indication of his thinking on Kingsnorth today when he outlines a new coal strategy for Britain.

While Mr Darling's headline green measures were welcomed, environmentalists complained that they did not go nearly far enough nor amount to the radical green stimulus to the economy which had been hoped for. They muttered about President Obama and his $150bn (£104bn). Other announcements were seen as specifically anti-environmental, such as the new boost for the exploitation of North Sea oil.

"Ministers tell us climate change is the great challenge of our time, but the money found for renewables and energy efficiency is only marginally more than Mr Darling found earlier this year for RBS bonuses," said John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace. "The Obama administration says it won't let the economic crisis go to waste and is promising to reshape the US economy in response to global warming, while here Gordon Brown says the same thing then holds out a fistful of pennies.

"This budget was a mixed bag, with a few positive announcements that were more than outweighed by a striking paucity of ambition."

Case Study: 'The £525m for offshore wind is smoke and mirrors'

David Murray, 45, Owner of green business

Mr Murray set up Coriolis Energy Ltd in May 2007, developing wind farms across the United Kingdom. He employs nine staff and turnover is around £750,000.

"Overall, this Budget is a disappointment. The interim emissions target could have been stiffer and we wait to see how it will be enforced. Will the Government fine itself if it fails? The £525m for offshore wind is just smoke and mirrors. This is explicitly not new money: it is a reallocation of funds, and by prioritising offshore wind we, as a company who develop onshore wind, could lose out. The £405m on green manufacturing is welcome but, like most of the Chancellor's green pledges, will pay dividends in the medium- and long-term rather than soon, which is when it is needed."

Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living