Budget 2020: Chancellor pours billions into new roads and more tax cuts for fossil fuels…

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  • Ahead of the UK hosting COP26 later this year, today’s budget presented the urgent opportunity for the Government to set out a clear and credible plan to address the climate crisis, instead of continuing to postpone action. 
  • The Chancellor’s delay to the Government’s net-zero strategy, which would set out a clear plan for reducing the UK’s emissions to net-zero by 2050, means that meaningful, critical action has been kicked further down the road.
  • Without a significant change in policy direction, the UK economy will fail to reach its net-zero targets, and the poorest and most marginalised will be increasingly, disproportionately impacted by climate breakdown.
  • Councillors from across the country are demanding more money and resources from the Chancellor to be able to respond to the emergency. 
  • XR Faith Bridge, the 24/7 prayer and meditation vigil outside Parliament, was this morning joined by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and other Bishops from the Diocese of Southwark, increasing calls on our political leaders to have the wisdom and the courage to act.

In September 2018, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said that the world needed to be cutting carbon emissions radically by the end of 2020. [1] Today’s budget was the last opportunity for the UK government to take that route. 

The science dictates we need a massive capital investment and regulatory programme to get us to zero carbon in five years; again, as ever, these tough and necessary decisions have been postponed. [2]

We are rightly pivoting our finances to tackle and mitigate Covid-19. We must do the same for environmental protection and justice. 

Despite Parliament declaring a Climate Emergency, the British government spends just 0.8 per cent of GDP on protecting our climate and environment. [3]   

Despite hundreds of local councils declaring Climate Emergencies, many with 2030 targets, after a decade of government cuts that have laid waste to sustainability budgets, they lack the resources from central government to protect their communities. 

Most worryingly, despite talk of carbon neutrality, there was not one mention of the desire to stay below 2 degrees of global warming. This aim was both absent from the Rishi Sunak’s rhetoric and incompatible with his budget.

While the Chancellor pledged £5.2 billion on flood defences, £1 billion on green transport solutions (a drop in the ocean to the £12 billion we need) and £800 million on three carbon capture plants, this was coupled with a fuel duty cut and £27 billion investment into our roads, maintaining taxes on renewable electricity, VAT on solar energy, and red diesel tax relief for agriculture (responsible for 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK), making a mockery of the government’s promise to put the climate and environment first. [4] 

It is time to stop cutting fuel duties.

It is time to stop pouring huge subsidies into fossil fuels.

It is time to stop new investments in fossil fuel exploration & infrastructure. 

It is time to fund the restoration of the UK’s decimated natural environment and forests.

It is time to fund a five year net zero carbon target programme, informed by a Citizens’ Assembly.  

It is time to fund local councils to implement action on their declared climate emergencies.

It is time to tell the public the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Quotes from Councillors, struggling on the frontline without the necessary resources to respond to the mounting emergency:

Councillor Kevin Frea, Co-ordinator, Climate Emergency UK: “65% of all Local Authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have declared a climate emergency, but they have depleted resources to take the massive action necessary to make the carbon reductions to meet their targets.”

Councillor Erica Lewis (Labour) Leader, Lancaster City Council: “To meet the climate emergency, we need a partnership between local and national government. We have the skills, expertise and connection to local communities, but we need to have the right powers and levels of resourcing.”

Councillor Lina Simic (Labour), Liverpool City Council: “This is it, time to act – there is no other planet, no other home. With political will, we can change our present and our future. As elected representatives we have a duty to act now.”

Councillor Simon Pickering (Green), Stroud District Council: “Stroud District Council became the first Carbon Neutral Council in Europe for our own direct operations to help enable out citizens and business move towards carbon zero in our recent residents (statistically valid) survey, 87% of residents and 90% of businesses supported minimising our carbon footprint, adapting to climate change and recycling more. 82% wanted to see more large-scale renewable energy and energy storage.”

Councillor Diane Roscoe (Labour), Sefton Council: “We need powers, funding, investment and a nationally agreed baseline measurement that we can adhere to.”

Notes to editors:

[1]  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/11/fossil-fuel-dependence-poses-direct-existential-threat-warns-un-chief?CMP=aff_1432&utm_content=The+Independent&awc=5795_1583749005_6412359cea45caee86f7d966a5ad78d8

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51760507 

[3] https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Government-Investment-for-a-greener-and-fairer-economy-FINAL-30.08.19.pdf 

[4] https://www.edie.net/news/11/Budget–Green-groups-urge–33bn-annual-investment-to-meet-UK-s-net-zero-target/ 

[5]  https://www.energylivenews.com/2020/03/11/budget-2020-spending-plans-on-climate-transport-ccs-and-environment-revealed/ 

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook 

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.




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