Gordon Brown will obviously be using this Budget to press a few “green” buttons and parade his eco-credentials. However, mere political posturing on this hugely important issue will not appear on any environmentalist’s wish-list.
This budget must actually tackle climate change, and here’s some straightforward ways Mr Brown can start.
Firstly, he should slash tax on energy efficient light bulbs to encourage everyone to use them. The 17.5 per cent sales tax should ideally be cut to zero. The EU will probably stamp its feet over this so 5 per cent will be a good effort from Mr Brown as long as this is the first step towards a complete tax ban on energy inefficient bulbs by the end of the year.
Secondly, Mr Brown has to bash – purely in a fiscal sense – the belching gas guzzlers on the roads. He has pandered to the road transport lobby for far too long and, if he is serious about tackling global warming, this has to change. A decent start to this would be to increase vehicle excise duty on the worst offenders to £1,800.
Transport is a huge contributor to global warming gases, and the rise in cheap domestic flights is a dangerous trend. If Mr Brown’s budget is to be green, he should strongly discourage people from hopping on planes for short journeys by using tough “green” taxes on aviation to put more funding into the railways.
Homeowners can reduce their impact on the climate by installing renewable energy systems, and many are keen to do so. Yet, the support from the government is far from sufficient.
The Low Carbon Buildings Programme hands out grants for householders to install these energy systems, but it is ridiculously under-funded. March’s allocation ran out in less than two hours. To end this farce, Mr Brown must put millions of pounds of new money into the programme, making sure that it meets demand.
Get alerts on Front page when a new story is published