As Gordon Brown delivered what is expected to be his last budget as Chancellor today (Wednesday 21 March), Christian Aid said it must also be the last in which the Chancellor does not set a clear, annual budget for the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
"Alongside the next financial budget, the new Chancellor will need the power to set a carbon budget so that voters can monitor the progress the UK is making in its efforts to cut CO2 emissions," said Paul Brannen, head of Christian Aid’s climate change campaign.
"This is hopefully the last budget in which piecemeal policies, which may be good in their own right, are set in an attempt to trigger ad hoc cuts in emissions. We need government to set out a clear strategy for systematic cuts."
In a recent speech to environmental groups, Gordon Brown indicated that carbon budgeting would soon become an accepted practice. "Just as we manage our financial budgets over the economic cycle with prudence and discipline, so we will have to manage our carbon budgets with the same prudence and discipline," he said.
Christian Aid is campaigning to ‘cut the carbon’ because of the devastating impact of climate change, which is already being felt in poor communities across the world.
"Tackling climate change will require radical new policies that encourage good practice and discourage inefficiency and heavy pollution," said Mr Brannen.
"Voters who are concerned about the impact of climate change in poor countries or the threat to future generations at home need clarity from government about how to make changes in their lives and how to use their purchasing power and their investments to help bring about a revolution in the economy."
Christian Aid praised Gordon Brown for some of the specific green initiatives within the budget, in particular the setting up of a new ‘environmental transformation fund’ to help bolster environmental protection and fund clean energy in poor countries. The first £50 million of an expected £800 million contribution from the UK towards a proposed international fund will help poor people in countries in central Africa’s Congo basin to preserve the forests on which they depend.
"It is encouraging to see the Chancellor has understood how tackling poverty and protecting the environment must go hand-in-hand," said Mr Brannen. "If successful, this initiative will help poor people find alternative ways of making a living and avoid cutting forests to provide an income and for fuel. Ultimately, this is also in our interests because avoiding deforestation will help stop global warming."