Quakers call for a ‘Climate Budget’

Britain Yearly Meeting has called for a ‘Climate Budget’, with six key actions to ‘ensure climate damage is factored into investment decisions’

Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) has called for a ‘Climate Budget’, ahead of this week’s government Budget. Six key actions are needed, it said, to redirect public spending towards ‘a just transition’ to ‘ensure climate damage is factored into investment decisions’.

In a statement, BYM said: ‘Quakers ask the government to:

‘End all fossil fuel subsidies, including tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas, and immediately ban new public investment in fossil fuel projects including through UK Export Finance;

‘Commit at least five per cent of government spending to funding a just transition to zero carbon. Measures should include retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, improving walking and cycling infrastructure, investing in natural flood prevention, and a funded strategy to support workers and communities dependent on high-carbon industries;

‘Provide funding and support for local authorities and communities to cut their emissions and build resilience to climate breakdown;

‘Lead international efforts to establish new public finance for global climate adaptation, loss and damage;

‘Ensure that the costs of inaction are factored into the proposed net-zero funding review, and into all investment appraisals;

‘Require the carbon impact of all spending decisions to be assessed, and publish a carbon impact account alongside Budgets to show the overall carbon impact of spending decisions.’

It said that these steps are ‘vital’ if the UK is to show leadership in its presidency of the twenty-sixth UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and convince other nations to adopt ambitious emissions targets. ‘The UK’s net-zero target must be embedded across all areas of government, and it can only be achieved with full support from the Treasury. There is no more time to lose.’

According to BYM, the deputy chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Julia Brown, also called for a ‘climate change Budget’, while a recent poll found that almost two-thirds of people in Britain think the government should do more to tackle the crisis. BYM highlighted CCC advice that spending equivalent to 1-2 per cent of national GDP (or 2.5-5 per cent of total government spending) is necessary for the UK to reach net-zero by 2050.

‘The financial costs of inaction would be vastly higher, even before the human and environmental costs are factored in; while a well-managed transition has the potential for huge social, environmental and economic benefits.’

Much or all of the investment required could be financed from existing sources, said BYM, highlighting proposals from the Green New Deal Group to raise £100 billion of green investment annually by requiring ISAs to be invested in green bonds and for a proportion of pension fund contributions to be used for ‘Green New Deal’ investments. BYM also proposed ending tax breaks for fossil fuels, and funding the infrastructure required to support this by redirecting money from ‘expensive and polluting infrastructure projects such as road building’.

Olivia Hanks, BYM’s economics and sustainability programme manager, said: ‘The UK government has committed to a net-zero emissions target, but is still propping up fossil fuels and high-carbon infrastructure projects. By setting out our asks for a “Climate Budget”, we can add to the pressure on the government to step up its climate action and ensure the needs of the poorest people come first.’

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