In his Emergency Budget, the Chancellor shone a light, albeit a rather weak one, on future energy efficiency improvements
Overall, general impressions from green business are dismissive of George Osborne’s budget.
The headlines make it easy to understand why; tax breaks for oil and gas, and the disintegration of the Climate Change Levy exemption for renewably sourced electricity from August 1, 2015. Not a mention of low carbon in Osborne’s speech.
It is hard to see positivity for the UK in all this. To find reasons for cheeriness, you have to dig a little deeper.
The hidden undercurrent of hope
In DECC’s budget response, Amber Rudd, Climate Change Secretary, said this: “UK business also has a vital role to play in meeting the UK’s climate change targets; by incentivising reductions in energy consumption and emissions, the government is giving business the tools to achieve that goal.”
That seems at odds with the headlines. But, Osborne also announced a number of fundamental and potentially far reaching reviews.
First, the government will review the business energy efficiency tax landscape and consider approaches to simplify and improve the effectiveness of the regime. A consultation will be launched in Autumn 2015.
Moreover, Osborne will continue to promote the low carbon investment and innovation needed to support global action on climate change, focussing on the best value for money policies to keep costs down for consumers.
How you interpret all this depends on one thing; how cynical you are.
Hopeful truth or aimless chit chat?
At Greenlite, our company values explain we will always treat staff and customers with respect, valuing their views and opinions.
There’s nothing to say Osborne’s review won’t do exactly this for UK businesses. A smarter efficiency landscape, unhindered by red tape and made workable by sensible, review-driven changes, would embody the same feelings we hold dear.
It might be that the Conservatives plan to generously rebuild our energy efficiency systems, to coincide with the launch of the Energy Bill in 2016. It might be that we will be presented with a simple, low carbon prioritised, incentivised future.
To at least give Osborne the chance to deliver this, everyone with a stake in UK energy efficiency should think about what should change, and closely follow the call for opinions when consultation opens.
The cynics’ viewpoint
Alternatively, the consultations might prove fruitless. They might be a smokescreen that delays honesty on Conservative green business plans, while the party quietly allows existing low carbon policy to silently die off.
Speculation on this, quite frankly, could be endless.
Therefore, until the consultation opens, we advise business should take these actions:
a) Think about what you want from a low carbon UK. Prepare to communicate this to Government. b) Work hard. Deliver efficiency upgrades and retrofits. Prove the value of our sector.
Politics, ultimately, is about what the people want. There is nothing action and hard work cannot achieve.
Positivity, and a sector that stands up to be counted, are precisely the response George Osborne needs to see. If you shout loud enough, and deliver enough change, the politicians are accountable to you. Not the other way around.