Budget – Green or Brown?

One or two positive Green noises coming from the budget forecasters.  Things such as Mr Brown’s plans to provide incentives for energy-efficient home-owners and his lobbying in Europe to bring VAT for energy-efficient goods down to 5%.   And he’s going to heavily penalise drivers of the gas-guzzlers and reward small car users.

Good, good. 

That said, if Gordon Brown’s Green budget history is any indication of what we are to expect, then his Green initiatives will once again turn out to be very unimaginative and rather useless.  Just lots of green rhetoric that the government will fail to live up to.  I don’t suppose he will really give us much hope.  Carbon emissions have in fact gone up since he took charge of the treasury.

But there actually is hope.  In the form of the Green party who released details of their budget proposals this week.  They aim to lower the UK carbon emissions by 90% by the year 2050.   Here are their proposals:

  • Package of measures will save 7.5 per cent of carbon dioxide  emissions in 2007/8
  • Taxes on carbon-intensive activities to be spent on environmental  measures and VAT reduction
  • Cut in basic rate of VAT gives £14bn back – almost £250 each,  including children
  • Worst gas guzzlers to pay £1800 tax disc, raising £8bn
  • Restoration of fuel duty escalator means cost of petrol will be  £1.07 per litre this year, cutting emissions by 3 per cent
  • £3bn to be spent this year on more buses and cheaper rail fares
  •  Air Passenger Duty raised to £100 – cuts total emissions by 1 per cent
  • Climate Change Levy paid by businesses to double – saving 2 per  cent of carbon emissions
  • £500 million boost for renewable energy grants – saving 1 per cent  of emissions with cleaner electricity
  • Standard rate of VAT cut from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent
  • Money raised from new 60 per cent income tax for income over  £100,000 to be spent on children, pensioners and affordable housing
  • Cheaper meals out, hotels and entertainments – VAT reduced to 5 per  cent to boost tourism within the UK
  • £12bn to be raised by taxing incomes above £100,000 at 60 per cent
  • Old age pension to rise 19 per cent to £100 per week
  • Child Benefit increased by £5 per week for each child
  • £1.5bn more to be spent on more social housing
  • Means testing for personal care for the elderly to end
  • 60 per cent more to be spent on recycling
  • Council Tax rises curbed: Government grants to local authorities to  be increased by £2.4bn

Some very compassionate welfare policies there among the green policies. 

It’s the only way.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Its a good thing. We have incentives in Australia too.

    On a more personal note, we’re currently building a new home and enjoying the opportunity to plan an energy efficient design from scratch. Water tanks have gone in underground. & we have included plans for solar water heating, and PV cells on the roof for energy production – the excess of which we will sell back into the grid. We’ve also made the most passive design choices to use less energy eg. material choices, orientation to the sun, etc. So much is known these days about all this stuff. Its all good.


  2. Well done Bindi. That’s great!

    New-builds are part of new green legislation here in the UK (but it’s somewhat useless as it stands because it’s yet to be implemented). What’s also needed is for the government to begin a full retrofit scheme so that all existing houses and buildings can be converted into energy-efficient homes. Grants should go to people who are on tight budgets.

    Our house is already energy-efficient in most areas but I have some more goals, with a five year target and our plans include getting a rainwater harvesting system and becoming self-sufficient in vegetables. We also have slanted roofs with skylights built in but we will install solar panels when our budget allows.

    How good will it feel if and when we can actually provide the grid?


  3. […] Scorched Earth says if the chancellor’s past efforts are anything to go by this budget’s going to be “very unimaginative and rather useless.” […]


  4. > £12bn to be raised by taxing incomes above £100,000 at 60 per cent.

    More than 60% of plus-£2million homes in London are being purchased by Russians at the moment. They probably don’t even pay 1% tax on their incomes as it’s all registered to Russia.

    Many city workers (eg Goldman Sachs) that come from overseas do not pay income tax here. The government defends this decision on the basis that the UK must attract these people to our shores. Apparently these people would go elsewhere if we dared tax them.

    The 60% tax proposal therefore will only work if these workers coming from overseas actually start paying tax!


  5. I read Qatar is starting to consider alternative energies.

    Here in Spain new measures are being taken for renewable energies in new buildings.

    What we must do away with is everything derived from oil, coal, and use “clean” energies instead.


  6. Here in jolly old Sweden a big percentage of houses are now heated by ground heat pumps, a truly sustainable heating system. These things are now mature technology, and should really be in use everywhere. With insulation, smarter appliances and energy tech such as heat-pumps, users could easily save half of their energy and emissions. It’s all rather unsexy, but it’s already possible.

    Perhaps Mr. Brown should suggest a few real targets and alternatives and kick some arse instead of just fishing for green votes…


  7. And Jose: you talk about Qatar considering alternative energy. Do you have any links about this..?


  8. paddyk, Heat pumps are a great idea. Typical of the Swedes to get on with things without too much fuss. As for Gordon fishing for the green vote, having just watched his budget speech I’d say you’re right. Not a lot in it really.


  9. Matt, no. 4) I take your point about the 60% tax thing. The tax structure would indeed lure overseas fatcats here. Maybe the Green party should think about taxing these part time Londoners. But then, as you said, that would negate the lure effect.

    Many UK high earners often end up ditching Britain anyway because of the tax thing. But the bulk of the tax burden is on the poorer and middle incomers, isn’t it? They pay more proportionally than the rich. That’s not right. And the high earners such as the city workers get huge city bonuses as well as their fat pay packets. And at the same time, the public sector workers are expected to accept below inflation payrises. The inequalities are staggering. These traders and bankers who are receiving fat paychecks and huge bonuses are the one telling us our endowments and pensions aren’t doing so well. And with £35 bank charges no wonder they can earn such large bonuses.

    Oh, the envy will eat me up…

    Jose, I fully agree that we should be striving, full-on to rid ourselves of our dependence on fossil-fuels.

    Paddy, love the idea of the ground heat pumps. And I agree with you about Mr Brown just fishing for green votes. The same goes for the opposition parties. One or two fairly good initiatives but not nearly enough.

    Matty, another link for you here. Some info on UK heat pumps (made in Sweden I think). Sigh, I work so hard for you guys. Can I expect a fat bonus cheque this year?



  10. Yo earthpal, great link. You bonus;



  11. Matty, thank you. You know which buttons to press.

    Lovely stuff.


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