Putting 'Next Generation First'? Critics Denounce UK's 'Climate-Wrecking Budget'
'It's almost as if the recent UN climate agreement in Paris never occurred'
The UK's newly unveiled budget is touted as one "that puts the next generation first." Yet with tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry and insufficient support for the renewable sector, critics charge that "it's a climate wrecking budget."
Chancellor George Osborne announced the new budget Wednesday, telling parliament, "Doing the right thing for the next generation is what the government and this Budget is about, no matter how difficult and controversial it is." The issue of climate change, however, was left out.
Among the problems climate campaigners point out is the budget's plan for a tax break for the North Sea oil and gas industry of 1 billion pounds ($1.41 billion) over the next five years.
Osborne "also scrapped a carbon tax for businesses like Tesco Plc and raised a climate change levy that applies to electricity from renewables as well as from fossil fuels," Bloomberg Business reports.
"The direction for this government is becoming increasing clear," stated Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the London-based Renewable Energy Association, "with a huge tax cut for oil and gas with the most polluting industries continuing to be protected, but a tax raise for renewable generators through the now thoroughly misnamed Climate Change Levy."
She added that "renewables are getting continually squeezed and blocked."
Environmental group Friends of the Earth offered similar criticism to the budget, with campaigner Liz Hutchin stating: "The Budget was full of 'next generation rhetoric,' but tax breaks for the climate-wrecking oil and gas industry pose a real threat to the security of people, the economy and planet.
"It's almost as if the recent UN climate agreement in Paris never occurred," she added.
Greenpeace UK offered this tweet in response to the budget:
Green MP Caroline Lucas pointed to the recent UN climate deal as well, charging: "Once again the Chancellor is taking the country down a dangerous path by ignoring the threat of climate change. This Budget locks us into fossil fuel dependency and completely contradicts the Prime Minister’s call to action at the Paris climate talks. His plans to cut tax for North Sea oil and gas—rather than investing in a just transition away from fossil fuels—are myopic and dangerous.
"This climate-wrecking budget shows that the Government’s talk of putting the next generation first is nothing short of sheer hypocrisy. If our Government was serious about creating a decent society for our children and grandchildren then they would be pulling out all the stops to support British firms and business in the renewable energy sector and to keep fossil fuels in the ground," Lucas said.
Denouncing the budget as having "unfairness at its very core," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also took issue other aspects of the budget, and said it marked "the continuation of austerity." Indeed, analysts have pointed out that it stands to benefit wealthier families and big business.
Corbyn also "attacked cuts to disability benefits and criticized 'mate's rates' corporate tax deals—but welcomed a new levy on sugary drinks," as BBC News reports.
He and his party also tweeted out responses to the budget, including the ones below:
Osborne's priorities clear: Half a million disabled people lose over £1 billion, while corporations handed billions in tax cuts #Budget2016— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) March 16, 2016