4.5 The role of the UK government's budget

One key mechanism through which UK adaptation measures can be announced is the Budget. The 2009 Budget included a number of green measures:

  • the world's first binding near-term carbon budget, committing the UK to cut carbon emissions by 34% by 2020

  • commitment to build two to four CCS demonstrations

  • £4 billion for renewable energy projects via the European Investment Bank

  • exemption of new combined heat-and-power (CHP) plants from the Climate Change Levy from 2013 (the equivalent of £2.5 billion in investment)

  • £1.4 billion of funding to combat climate change by supporting low-carbon industries and green-collar jobs.

As Britain has some of the least energy-efficient homes in Europe, measures to improve efficiency are welcome and offer one relatively easy and quick way to reduce carbon emissions. Of the UK's 25 million residential buildings, 17 million have cavity walls, but less than half of these have wall insulation. Millions of houses have unlagged lofts and water tanks, and fewer than 10% of windows are double-glazed. Although positive about some of the Budget measures – such as the £375 million pledged to improve energy efficiency in buildings over two years, and funding for renewables – green and business groups highlighted the tiny reduction in carbon emissions, with Greenpeace dismissing the measures as ‘woeful', as the annual emissions savings represent just two weeks’ emissions from Radcliffe-on-Soar coal-powered station, Britain's third biggest power station.

4.6 Agriculture and forestry