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Budget to be a ‘litmus test’ for government as £33bn a year needed for net zero, IPPR says

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Net zero will require £33 billion of extra spending per year until 2050, according to new analysis from thinktank IPPR's Environmental Justice Commission.

Current policy action has been “insufficient”, the Commission states, urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use Wednesday’s budget to “act” now asthe time for talk “is long since past”.

The estimated £33 billion per year should be spread across the economy, ensuring the UK runs on renewables, that industry has switched to mostly carbon-free production, that houses are well insulated, forests are “flourishing” and public transport is the main means of travel.

Spending would need to increase by an extra £33 billion per year. Image: IPPR.
Spending would need to increase by an extra £33 billion per year. Image: IPPR.

Transport is one of the most important areas for public investment, it highlighted, with decarbonisation of the sector requiring £14 billion of additional annual investment. This would support EV infrastructure and incentives, as well as railways, bus networks and prompt walking and cycling.

A large-scale government retrofit programme will also be required to reduce emissions from buildings, along with public funding for nature and farming, a fundamental change in the way industry produces products and a Just Transition Fund.

The sums the government has currently committed on these issues are “insufficient”, the Commission continued, and across almost all sectors the government’s election manifesto commitments are “far below what is needed”.

In fact, the government’s total climate commitments make up just 5% of the spending needed to meet net zero by 2050, it stated. Announced investments would be insufficient to hit even the previous target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, constituting only 14% of what would be needed.

The government's manifesto pledges for public investment are less than 10% of what is needed for a 2050 net zero. Image: IPPR.
The government's manifesto pledges for public investment are less than 10% of what is needed for a 2050 net zero. Image: IPPR.

Ed Miliband, co-chair of the Environmental Justice Commission, said this is the government’s opportunity to “show true global leadership on the climate crisis”.

“We need a significantly tougher UK target for 2030 put in place this year to encourage other countries to follow and a budget that puts tackling the climate emergency at its heart.

“This will take investment but making these decisions will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, improve our natural environment, cut air pollution and make Britain a better place to live,” he said.

The Environmental Justice Commission was set up by the IPPR in April 2019, and has been critical in the past of the spending commitments made by the government on climate issues.

Its analysis has been built on that from the Committee on Climate Change and other NGOs, it said.

Caroline Lucas, co-chair of the Environmental Justice Commission, added that the budget will be a "litmus test" of whether the government understands the climate crisis, "and on the basis of the evidence, they are falling terrifyingly short of what is needed".

“When the chancellor rises to his feet on Wednesday, he should announce investment on a scale that meets the multiple challenges we face”.

Current± has contacted HM Treasury for comment.

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