Just £4bn of new money for Boris Johnson’s climate emergency plan, Cabinet minister admits

Only £2bn of government cash to be spent on plugging energy-leaking homes - not the £9bn pledged in last year’s Tory manifesto

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 18 November 2020 09:44 GMT

Alok Sharma admits only 4bn of govt's Climate Change plan is new money

Just £4bn of new money has been found for Boris Johnson’s new climate emergency plan, a minister has admitted – echoing the criticism of green groups.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the ambition behind the 10-point package, but immediately cast doubt on the claim that £12bn would be spent on slashing carbon emissions.

Put on the spot, Alok Sharma, the business secretary admitted: “Yes, around £4bn of this is new money – the other money is money that has been pledged previously or, indeed, at the last Budget.”

And, asked if the UK could now hit its landmark pledge to stop adding to global heating by the middle of the century, he said only: “This is certainly part of the road map to get us to net zero by 2050.”

Only £2bn of government cash will be spent on plugging energy-leaking homes, the biggest source of emissions, down from the £9bn pledged in last year’s Conservative election manifesto.

The prime minister has hailed the measures as a job-creating “green industrial revolution”, arguing the switch to a low-carbon economy will not simply load extra costs onto households and businesses.

And it was welcomed by the independent Climate Change Committee, although it says £30bn a year is needed, every year for 30 years, to meet the ‘net zero’ emissions commitment by 2050.

“I am delighted to see the breadth of the prime minister’s commitment. This must now be turned into a detailed road map – so we all know what’s coming down the track in the years ahead,” said Lord Deben, its chairman.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said of the strategy: “When you put it the context of the scale of the climate and nature emergencies face – and indeed the scale of job emergencies we face – then it's nowhere near ambitious enough.

“It's not urgent enough, it's not bold enough, it completely fails to rise to the gravity of this moment.”

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, highlighted that only £4bn was being injected – when his party had called for £30bn of capital investment over 18 months, to support 400,000 new low-carbon jobs.

“Only a fraction of the funding announced today is new. We don't need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now,” he said.

Mr Sharma said £3bn would be spent on improving energy efficiency in total, calling it “a downpayment” on the £9bn pledged last year.

The strategy will:

* Ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 and hybrid vehicles outlawed five years later.

* Confirm £1.3bn for new charging points for electric vehicles and £582m in grants to make them more affordable.

* Spend up to £500m to test hydrogen cooking and heating in homes as a less polluting alternative to gas.

Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, said: “Despite a number of positive commitments, the prime minister’s 10-point plan falls far short of the ambitious policy overhaul needed to demonstrate real global leadership on the climate crisis.”

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