The mini-budget falls far short of promoting a low-carbon future for the UK

The Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced the lifting of the effective ban on onshore wind farms, and the poorest households will regain access to insulation and energy efficiency measures.

Polls show that onshore wind is popular, with more than 70% of people supporting it. Jess Ralston, senior analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “The ban on onshore wind has been a major anomaly in UK energy policy given that it is both cheap and popular with public. Thus, a decision to lift the ban suggests [Kwarteng] has listened to the experts and understands that building more UK renewables reduces our reliance on expensive gas and so lowers bills.

These measures will help boost renewable energy production and keep thousands of homes warmer over the next three years. But they were virtually the only concrete low-carbon policies in a mini-budget that promised around £60billion over the next six months to UK energy companies, to protect consumers from higher bills, and rewarded North Sea oil and gas producers with the prospect of 100 new licenses. Experts say the latter would do nothing to improve the current energy crisis and threaten the UK’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions for years to come.

The biggest gap was in the insulation of houses. Kwarteng confirmed £1bn over three years would come from energy suppliers to be spent on the most vulnerable consumers. Much of this will go towards attic insulation and in some cases boiler replacements which are expected to save thousands of low-income people around £200 a year.

That still leaves no provision for the vast majority of the estimated 19 million households in the UK who need home insulation. Amy Norman, senior researcher at the Social Market Foundation, pointed out that because the government paid energy producers directly, the lack of a home insulation policy affected its own balance sheet and the UK’s overall fiscal stability.

“How much energy people use is no longer just a private matter, but now a matter of fiscal responsibility. Given that every unit of energy consumed now costs the taxpayer, it is unfortunate that the government has done nothing to encourage demand reduction that could save families and government money,” he said. she declared. “It’s a shame that a short-sighted refusal to do anything that could be perceived as telling people what to do has prevented the construction of a cheaper and safer system.”

The stamp duty reduction was another missed opportunity, experts said. This could have been done with “green chains” or incentives such as discounts. Louise Hutchins, policy officer at the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘There is growing support for an ‘energy saving stamp duty’ incentive as it would reward households for insulating their attic and their walls, the installation of double glazing or the installation of a heat pump. just when they are most likely to upgrade their property anyway – within two years of purchase. The program could be revenue-neutral for the government or be linked to additional support for struggling households who need the most help to insulate their homes.

Nor has there been a move to recoup the huge costs of government energy policy from companies profiting from soaring prices. Rebecca Newsom, Policy Officer at Greenpeace UK, said: “Failing to properly tax the obscene profits of fossil fuel giants and encouraging bankers to get rich is reckless and unfair.

“Rather than seek to deregulate and attack those on benefits, the new Chancellor should be looking for ways to raise taxes on those profiting from the crisis. This could help fund emergency aid for households. and cover the vital investment needed in home insulation to help reduce our energy bills and climate emissions once and for all.

Seen alongside the government’s dismantling of environmental regulations in the name of post-Brexit reforms, the outlook for the UK’s climate targets and nature protection was bleak, said WWF’s Kate Norgrove, with adverse effects on the ‘economy.

“If the government is serious about boosting the UK economy, it needs to stop blowing hot and cold to tackle the climate and nature emergency,” she said. “The only path to a growing and resilient economy is to invest in net zero by developing renewable energy, insulating our homes and accelerating the transition to nature-friendly agriculture. Anything less would be a betrayal of people and the planet.

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