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Government spending defies rhetoric on climate change

oo8c (Photo by Pearse O'Halloran on Unsplash)Government Ministers may be talking the talk on climate change, but when it comes to actually doing something about it they are failing to deliver according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

As the Guardian reports, the WWF's analysis of the spring budget has found that the UK government is spending many times more on measures that will increase greenhouse gas emissions than on policies to tackle the climate crisis.

The WWF have concluded that only £145m in the March 2021 budget was devoted to environmental spending, most of it on the post-Brexit emissions trading scheme for industry, but the cost of tax breaks to companies to encourage investment came to more than £34bn, while maintaining the fuel duty freeze - for an 11th consecutive year - is costing about £4.5bn in lost revenues:

In all, WWF found that measures in the 2021 budget that would increase emissions were worth about £40bn. The findings come from a new "budget tagging tool" developed by the charity with help from Vivid Economics, which measures the impact of policy decisions that affect the environment.

Isabella O'Dowd, the head of climate at WWF, said: "The spring budget showed a disconnect between the government's rhetoric and the reality of what it's doing. The ambition [on emissions-cutting targets] is great, but now we really need to see the policies that will deliver."

She said the landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published on Monday, which found the world was heading for more than 1.5C of global heating within the next two decades, showed how urgent it was for ministers to act.

The UK will host vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, this November in Glasgow, aimed at bringing all countries together with new national commitments to cut emissions in line with the ambition of the Paris agreement of holding temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which the impacts of climate breakdown are likely to become more devastating.

"With nature in freefall and the climate in crisis, the clock is ticking for the planet," said O'Dowd. "It's not yet too late to prevent global warming rising above 1.5C - that is in our hands. But the UK government must play its part by keeping every climate promise it has made."

She said separate estimates showed the UK could benefit to the tune of about £90bn in the form of new jobs, health benefits and infrastructure if the government took a greener approach to investment and spending.

The clock is ticking, the need for action more and more urgent.