Javid's spending plan falls short of NGO requests

Chancellor Sajid Javid has presented his government spending plan for next year, which includes increases to the environmental protection funds of certain departments. These increases have left climate activists disappointed as they do not come close to the amount requested by NGOs in a recent letter to the Chancellor, reported on here. Eighteen NGOs requested that Javid increase government spending on climate goals by more than double the current expenditure. The letter predicted that £42bn in investments into climate sustainability across multiple sectors would be required to put the UK on track to meet its 2050 climate commitments. Javid’s plan pledges roughly 0.1 per cent of the amount suggested by the NGOs.

This round of spending has been touted as the fastest increase in government spending in 15 years, with every department receiving a day to day budget increase that is at least in line with inflation, according to Javid. However, some remain sceptical and critics have spoken out against what they view as lacklustre support for climate initiatives. Javid has allocated £432m to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on top of a 3.3 per cent (£100m) budget increase for the department, claiming that this would help ensure world leading environmental standards in Britain after Brexit. These funds are set to address air quality and promote terrestrial and marine biodiversity, though it was unclear whether some of the money would be paid to the Environment Agency, which has experienced recent budget cuts leading to a deficiency in the agency’s ability to enforce climate laws. The Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy gained a 2.2 per cent (£30m) budget increase, to be used for decarbonisation efforts to move toward the 2050 net zero goal. Departments like the Department for International Development gained £30m to aid developing nations in decarbonisation efforts. Javid also plans to allocate at least £250m to international climate and environment funds like the Green Climate Fund, to bring the UK closer to its Paris Agreement commitments.

NGOs and politicians concerned with climate sustainability have expressed discontent with the new budgets. Greenpeace’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom has said that the spending round “has fallen woefully short of addressing the single biggest issue of our time - the climate emergency.” She has condemned the spending plan's shortcomings as compared with the £42bn request, stating: "All other long-term investments become worthless if we don't protect the life-support systems our survival depends on."

Javid has said that more details on the Government’s domestic decarbonisation plan will be included in the Infrastructure Strategy later in the year.

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