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Autumn Budget response

Post Budget comment – Climate change challenge

Mitigation should be about pledging real investment commitments, today

5th November 2018

It is disappointing that, despite last month’s publication of the IPCC Report on Global Warming, the Chancellor chose not to drive through proposals to help mitigate against Climate Change, in the Autumn Budget. This, after some of the world’s leading scientists and government representatives warned us that global warming will exceed 1.5 °C as early as 2040 in their report on the impacts of global warming.

In recommending aggressive mitigation strategies to stop more carbon from entering the atmosphere, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that otherwise, even the sum of all existing pledges to cut carbon would still see rises in global average temperatures of 3°C by 2100.

The solutions presented are bold and challenging; carbon capture and storage demands the use of natural climate solutions but despite its enormous potential (capable of delivering over 30% of the emissions reductions needed) delivering such solutions at the pace and scale required will consume resources and investment at an unprecedented level.

We cannot address the climate change challenge without investment in new technologies and solutions and; these commitments must also be seen as being complementary and necessary, rather than competitive alternatives, to those that currently exist.

One particularly damaging competitive alternative lies in the construction industry; we currently have a situation where ‘smart construction’ is not subject to zero rate VAT. By adding the standard 20% VAT, any aspirations the Government has towards truly sustainable development will evaporate. The Chancellor could have achieved an easy win by ensuring zero rate VAT and signalling the Government’s intent to towards greater carbon reduction. Meanwhile, smart construction investment and its ability to contribute towards the creation of thousands of climate resilient homes and commercial buildings, will be hampered for more months, possibly years.

But get this right and sustainable development solutions such as this, underline UKBCSD’s support of climate-resilient development which can facilitate transformational changes in both approach and commitment necessary for achieving the IPCC’s ambitious mitigation and adaptation targets. Limiting the risk, impact and scale of global warming outlined in the report, whilst a challenge for securing society’s future welfare, is worth pursuing by all of us.

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