Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced plans to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport, however, environmental campaigners have criticised the funding of falling far short of what is needed to reach net-zero.
In an announcement made earlier today, (November 25), the chancellor has promised a series of measures to: ‘Invest in a greener future.’
These measures include £23.5bn for the Department for Transport (DfT), which will be used in part to decarbonise rail and buses.
As announced in the Prime Ministers 10 Point Plan last week, nearly £1.9bn will be spent on electric vehicle infrastructure, with dedicated grants for zero and ultra-low emissions vehicles.
A further £120m will also be spent on more than 800 zero-emission buses.
However, a key point of the spending review was dedicated funding for roads, which Rishi Sunak described as: ‘The biggest ever investment in new roads.’
Shaun Spiers, executive director of Green Alliance, has criticised the announcement for falling far short of what is needed: ‘Last week the prime minister set out a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution.
‘The chancellor’s statement was a chance to back that plan with serious money, but he muffed it. The chancellor gave no sense that he understands the scale of the climate and nature emergencies or the potential of the green economy for immediate job creation across the country.’
The chancellor also announced that cycling infrastructure will benefit from £257m grant. However, this funding is a fraction of the £2bn that the government has previously promised.
Xavier Brice, CEO of walking and cycling charity Sustrans said: ‘Fundamentally in the longer term, we will need to build on the £2bn allocated to walking and cycling and ensure that changes to the planning system deliver more 20-Minute Neighbourhoods, where everyday services can be reached easily and safely in a twenty-minute return walking trip.’
Environmental campaigners have also criticised the chancellor’s decision to temporarily lower the share of gross national income spent on aid from 0.7% to 0.5%.
Rachel Kennerley, friends of the earth international climate campaigner said: ‘The poorest countries must be supported in their efforts to move to clean energy systems and to cope with the impacts of climate breakdown – a crisis they are not responsible for causing. The aid budget is fundamental to making that happen.’
The Chancellor has promised to increase the schools’ budget by £2.2bn next year. However, Harriet Lamb, CEO of climate charity Ashden noted that this funding falls far short of the estimated £23bn needed to retrofit English schools in line with the net-zero goals.
‘With 32,000 schools in the UK, the Chancellor’s announcement does not show a serious commitment yet to reaching zero carbon. Schools have been signing up to the new Let’s Go Zero campaign, pledging to play their part on the journey to zero carbon by 2030 – but they cannot do it without much more leadership and support from the government.’
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