UK`s first low carbon budget

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The Chancellor unveiled a series of ‘green’ initiatives in the UK’s first ‘carbon budget’ this week, with approximately £1 billion pounds earmarked to encourage alternative and efficient energy use and deliver ‘green-collar jobs’. The budget promised carbon reductions of 34% by 2020. Darling called the move a 'landmark step'. The new target is well ahead of the 20 per cent promised at EU level and puts UK targets well above those in the US.

Greenpeace dismissed the new energy saving initiatives, expected to save around 380,000 tonnes of carbon each year, as “woeful”. 'The emissions saved per year represent about two weeks' emissions from Radcliffe-on-Soar coal-powered station” said the environment group's spokesperson.

Lord Turner, chairman of the Climate Change Committee and one of the figures behind the budget, commented “The carbon budgets provide the UK with the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world. We need to start reducing our emissions now, and we need tough policies and strong leadership from government.”

Offshore wind

Offshore wind is one of the big winners from this years budget, Darling adding that the UK needed renewable energy investment, talking of a new 'North Sea energy hub', built around offshore wind and including gas storage and carbon capture.

'The credit squeeze is holding back major offshore wind projects. I want to lift the barriers -- through £525 million pounds of new financial support over the next two years for offshore wind, funded through the renewables obligation. The potential is enormous,' he said.

'I am confident that this will lead to major projects getting the go-ahead quickly, providing enough electricity to meet the needs of up to 3 million households.'

This is still someway short however, of the £2 billion pounds asked for by the wind industry but should be enough to benefit a number proposed projects that are under threat including the London Array, the world’s largest.
Paul Golby, CEO of Eon UK, which has a 30% share in the London Array, added he was “certain” the move “would help transform wind power in the UK”.

Car Scrappage & Green Cars

In an attempt to increase sales within the failing automotive industry and encourage people to switch to more efficient, greenr vehicles, Darling confirmed that the government will launch a scrappage scheme worth £2,000 per car. The scheme covers the 10 million cars in the UK currently older than 10 years.

The scheme kicks in next month and will run until March 2010 or until the money runs out, whichever is soonest.
Darling also announced a major reform to vehicle excise duty in 2010 “to encourage manufacturers to produce cleaner cars” new bands will be brought in offering an “incentive to encourage drivers to choose the least polluting car”.

Green buildings

An additional £435 million pounds of extra support will be provided “to deliver energy efficiency measures -- for homes, businesses and public buildings” such as weatherproofing. The government also announced that from a £500 million pounds package designed to kick-start the building industry it would spend £100 million pounds helping local authorities to build low-carbon homes.

Green-collar jobs

The Governments green collar jobs strategy was a key part of this carbon budget. The Chancellor added government spending on environmental initiatives in the fight against climate change would create large numbers of 'green-collar jobs'. He added that there “could be over a million jobs in our environmental industries within the next two decades” providing “huge opportunities” for businesses.

“These budgets give industry the certainty needed to develop and use low-carbon technology – cutting emissions, creating new businesses and jobs.”

Funding for training and skills development also gone up, with an additional £260 million pounds targeting 'sectors with strong future demand' which will benefit those in environmental industry sectors. Sam Newell, founder of the renewable energy jobs portal, Renewable Energy Jobs noted “Investment on this scale is just what we need to develop a UK workforce capable of supporting a low carbon economy.”

Other Energy Investment

The Chancellor confirmed plans for an additional two carbon capture and storage demonstration plants retaining an option to build a further two in the future, how these projects will be funded was not confirmed.
Darling also announced that highly efficient combined heat and power plants are to be exempted from the climate change levy from 2013 which he predicts will attract £2.5 billion pounds of investment from the private sector.

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