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Government stimulus "not green enough", say MPs

The Government’s fiscal stimulus package was slammed by MPs today for investing too much in road building and too little in low-carbon growth.

The Environmental Audit Committee of MPs’ report on last November’s Pre-Budget Report claims that too little of the £3bn stimulus announced by chancellor Alistair Darling was focused on green technologies.

“The Pre-Budget Report announced a £535M package of green fiscal stimulus measures designed to tackle economic and environmental problems simultaneously,” says the report.

“This investment is welcome, but the scale too small -especially given that most of this funding was already committed, and will be offset by reduced spending in 2010-11.

“While welcome, the extra funding announced for the Warm Front programme will not deliver the scale and speed of change that is needed. It is disappointing that the wider fiscal stimulus package contains hundreds of millions of
pounds for road building and widening. The Treasury should publish an assessment of the net impacts of its fiscal stimulus package on the environment.

“Meeting our climate change and renewable energy targets will require a step-change in environmental investment. The Budget in 2009 should contain a much bigger and more coherent package of green fiscal stimulus.”

The committee urged Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown to follow US president Barack Obama’s example of investing heavily in environmental technologies in order to create a new green economy.

“The fiscal stimulus measures intended to pull the economy out of recession represent an invaluable opportunity decisively to transform the UK into a low carbon economy,” it continues.

“A programme of investments in low carbon industries would help build a modern and sustainable economy, securing Britain’s competitiveness and future prosperity in the new global economy that will emerge from this crisis. It is imperative that the Government grasps this opportunity in the forthcoming Budget.”

Green transport lobby group Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) agreed with the committee that so far the Government had failed to deliver on its green investment promises.

“As we said in our evidence to the committee, the Government’s programme of investment has missed the mark spectacularly,” said CfBT roads and climate campaigner Richard George.

“When belts are tightened people drive less, so why are they pouring money into polluting road schemes that don’t provide the long-term job security everyone is crying out for? Meanwhile bus services are getting cut and our walk-on rail fares are the highest in Europe. The Government needs to scrap costly road schemes and invest the money in public transport, to provide secure jobs, reduce CO2 emissions and save passengers money.”

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