In December 2015, the all-important UN climate change conference (COP21) will take place in Paris. Governments from around the world will then try to come to a new global agreement on curbing carbon emissions. Many think that this will be our last chance to keep temperature increases to below 2 degrees. One would think and hope that a UK government would do all it can to support policies that reduce our addiction to fossil fuels. Not so.
Osborne’s latest budget has extended the freeze on fuel duty increases again, the fourth year in a row he’s done so. At the same time, he’s offered generous tax cuts and investment stimuli for the North Sea oil and gas industry. This is nothing less than a slap in the face to those who are trying hard to come to an agreement in Paris later this year, not to mention the UK’s home-grown renewable energy industry.
Stimulating demand and supply of fossil fuels at the same time is nothing but a cheap, short-term political gag, and has nothing to do with long-term economic, social and environmental stewardship. The UK’s Climate Change Act requires us to take this long-term view, committing successive governments to the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to the 1990 baseline. Today, Osborne has made it just this little bit harder to achieve that goal.