The Budget - Greenpeace response

Last edited 12 March 2008 at 3:31pm
12 March, 2008

Responding to today's budget, Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said:

"Darling's safe pair of hands have dropped the ball on climate change. Suspending the promised increase in fuel duty has fatally undermined his boast that this is a green budget, and tinkering with tax on planes and cars isn't going to reduce emissions when he's also promising new runways and roads. The Chancellor should have channelled cash into clean technologies, energy efficiency projects and support for the renewables industry. On all these counts, his measures have failed to match the scale of the challenge we face."

The cost of motoring fell by 10 per cent in real terms (after accounting for growth in household income) between 1997 and mid-2007. Despite recent fuel price rises, the cost of motoring is still cheaper in real terms than when Labour came to power in 1997. Over the same period, rail and bus fares rose in real terms by 6 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Road transport emissions of carbon dioxide continue to rise and account for nearly 22 per cent of total UK emissions. The government's Climate Change Programme shows that fuel duty escalator was one of its most effective measures for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the late 1990s. The latest science shows that the UK must cut its emissions by 80 per cent to play its share in avoiding dangerous climate change. Policies which increase emissions are incompatible with this goal, and a ½ p rice in 2010 is too little, too late.

Responding to the Chancellor's proposals on aviation Greenpeace's senior transport campaigner Anita Goldsmith said:

"Increasing the revenue from flight taxes is hypocritical posturing from a Chancellor who wants to see Heathrow and Stansted almost double in size. The modest carbon savings that might be achieved by bumping up fares by a few pounds will be wiped out in no time by a third runway at Heathrow. A truly green Chancellor would have told the aviation industry their tax subsidies worth billions are being cancelled and the money is being channelled into the railways. Instead Labour is still committed to more runways, more emissions and more climate change."

The proposed expansion of Heathrow would increase flights from 480,000 a year to over 700,000 while plans to expand Stansted - published yesterday - would see the Essex airport become bigger than Heathrow is now. The government accepts that aviation currently accounts for 13 per cent of the UK's climate impact and is rising fast.

Responding to Darling's proposals on Vehicle Excise Duty Anita Goldsmith:

"This showroom tax is welcome but the new incentives to drive cleaner cars are too small to spark the kind of pollution reductions we need to see on our roads. The Chancellor is right to bash gas guzzlers but it means little while he's also ploughing billions into motorway widening schemes to make room for more cars."

Responding to the contradiction between Darling's comments on biofuels and the finding of Julia King's transport review, published today, Greenpeace Chief Policy Advisor Benet Northcote said:

"At the same time that Alistair Darling was telling the house he was pressing ahead with the government's biofuels plans, Julia King's report was published warning ministers that increasing the efficiency of our cars is a far better way of reducing transport emissions than encouraging biofuels. Government policy means that in a month's time motorists will be forced to pump biofuels into their tanks, with no way of ensuring they're sustainable. This is madness when the science says that most biofuels are even worse for the environment than fossil fuels."

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