The Chancellor’s Autumn statement isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly or energy-inspiring
We could have seen some step-changes (or even improvements) emerge from Chancellor Hammond’s Autumn statement. Only last November, climate change was touted by Hammond as a critical consideration for our futures at a speech in Washington DC, stating that “taking action to combat climate change is the right thing to do”.
It seems the tide has turned, and no mention of Paris – or even climate change – has come as a bitter disappointment to those business and energy consumers looking to green energy as the future for the energy industry. There was no mention of support for the renewables industry following Brexit.
Before I moved into utilities and software, I worked for a decade in the oil & gas industry; a sector still reeling from over-supply of hydrocarbons from US and traditional producers. The hugely negative impact of low oil price battered the UK North Sea industry and many of my friends and ex-colleagues will be less than impressed by the promise of merely sustaining current tax breaks – effectively a continued £1 billion subsidy. Holding firm on hydrocarbon taxation is a stalemate situation, pleasing neither hydrocarbon or green advocates.
For utilities, many had hoped for a cap on tariffs to prevent the exploitation of customers choosing not to switch providers with regularity, but this was not to be – and only vague promises for an enquiry were made. Don’t hold your breath.
The one positive has to be the promotion of infrastructure for electric cars – £80m for charging points and £150m for low emission buses and taxis. Whilst not game-changing sums of money, a step in the right direction but highly unlikely to have any material impact on the requirement to reduce emissions in line with the Paris agreement.
Very little clarity has been provided for the energy industry, irrespective of sector or discipline. With the Trump administration taking shape and looking at ramping up the domestic hydrocarbon industry at the expenses of climate change, this was an opportune moment for the UK to show its cards and take a leading role in the future of climate change.
Maybe next time?