Spring Statement: Building Sustainability into The Heart of Economic Model

Chancellor Phillip Hammond in his spring statement has pledged to “build sustainability into the heart of our economic model”, and argued that “there is an economic as well as an environmental case for protecting the diversity of the natural world”.

In a speech to the Commons, Chancellor Phillip Hammond spoke about his desire to ‘tackle the scourge of plastic waste defacing our countryside and choking our oceans’.

According to the Chancellor, the government was consulting on new taxes and regulatory measures to ensure we do exactly that. The Treasury is currently consulting on a tax on plastic products containing less than 30% recycled materials.

He went on to say that the Government will launch a comprehensive global review of the link be-tween biodiversity and economic growth, led by professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge University.

Hammond mentioned climate change for the first time in a spring statement:

“We must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time: climate change. And build sustainability into the heart of our economic model.”

The Government has also said it wants to ensure that wildlife is not compromised when delivering infrastructure – presumably including waste and recycling plants – and housing. It plans to mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity.

A consultation on infrastructure finance was published, looking at how the Government can support private investment after Brexit. Government commitment to publishing a comprehensive national infrastructure strategy was confirmed.

A desire to help small businesses reduce their carbon emissions and energy use, and a plan to launch a call for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme, was announced. The statement also revealed plans to advance the decarbonisation of gas supplies by increasing the amount of green gas in the grid.

While there an audible shout of “rubbish” from the benches during this part of his speech to the Commons, Hammond said: “The UK is already leading the world, reducing the carbon intensity of our economy faster than any other G20 country, with ambitions and legally binding targets for the future.”

The statement also called to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, and the Government is launching a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions to look at consumer understanding of their journeys’ emissions. This may have an impact on the metal scrap sector if it accelerates the move to more energy-efficient vehicles.

Putting environmental concerns at the heart of taxation policy is the right strategy to create a sustainable economy, according to Suez’s David Palmer Jones, following the Chancellor’s Spring statement.

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