Britain`s commitment to a low-carbon economy survives budget cuts



The British government today outlined a program of deep and wide-ranging budget cuts across every department, including those dealing with energy and climate change, environment, transport and business and innovation.

But the government's commitment to becoming a world-leading low carbon economy remains intact.

The Spending Review unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne involved major reductions in administrative budgets for all departments, but increased capital spending for environment and energy-related programs linked to ifs low-carbon economy commitments.

Up to £1 billion will be allocated to create one of the world's first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration plants, and  a £860 million Renewable Heat Incentive will be introduced from 2011-12 aimed at achieving a more-than-tenfold increase of renewable heat over the coming decade.

A further £200 million will be allocated for low-carbon technologies, including offshore wind technology and manufacturing infrastructure at port sites. The government's Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) program will be refocused toward more cost-effective technologies with the goal of saving £40 million by 2014-15.  

Spending on science research will be maintained and further £250 million per year will be allocated for adult apprenticeships to create an additional 75,000 apprenticeship places every year, with particular focus on skills training for new clean technology jobs.  

On the public utilities side, over £10 billion in funding will be made available for national and local road networks, and public transport schemes, and in Britain's major cities charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will be provided along with an incentive of up to £5000 for the purchase of ultra-low carbon cars.  

The government has set aside £1 billion for a new Green Investment Bank, considerably less than the £4 billion that industry had said would be required for the bank. However, Chancellor Osborne said he hoped much more would be raised for the bank from the private sector and from the proceeds of future government asset sales.  

Revenue raised from a previously announced Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme will be used to support the public finances (including spending on the environment), rather than recycled to participants..

The CRC program which starts next year, was intended to be a self-financing fund through levies on energy that were to be recycled to firms that had cut their energy use.

Dr. John D. Wiebe, President of the GLOBE Foundation, who was in London when the Spending Review announcement was made, noted that despite the urgent necessity for the British government to cut spending, it still sees the enormous potential of promoting cleantech investment, energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

'The job creation potential of a low-carbon economy is something that the GLOBE Foundation has verified in its recent research in British Columbia,' he said, 'and it is reassuring to see that the U.K. government also sees the value of investing in a low-carbon future.'

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