Ashden responds to Chancellor's plans

UK spending review: more needed for green schools and buildings, aid cuts a mistake

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak

UK climate charity Ashden has responded to the Chancellor’s national spending review and National Infrastructure Strategy, highlighting the need for greater investment in green schools, urging clarity on funding and policy for building retrofit – and warning against planned cuts to aid budgets.

Discussing school investment, the Chancellor today promised to increase the schools’ budget by £2.2 billion next year – and said the Government was “well on the way to delivering our commitment to an extra £7.1 billion by 2023”. On aid, the Chancellor said Government would temporarily lower the share of gross national income spent on aid from 0.7% to 0.5%.

Today the Government also announced its national infrastructure strategy – detailing how transport, industry, energy and the built evironment will be transformed to reach net zero.

Ashden’s response on school investment

Harriet Lamb, Ashden CEO, says:

“The Chancellor’s £2.2 billion investment in schools is a good start, but falls far short of the estimated £23 billion needed to be spent on English schools alone to get them to zero carbon. This investment falls hugely short of meeting the government’s own carbon targets.

“With 32,000 schools in the UK, the Chancellor’s announcement does not show a serious commitment yet to reaching zero carbon. Schools have been signing up to the new Let’s Go Zero campaign, pledging to play their part on the journey to zero carbon by 2030 – but they cannot do it without much more leadership and support from the government.

“Investing in taking schools to zero carbon will also generate badly needed jobs across the country, creating the green skills needed now and in the future.”

Ashden’s response on overseas aid

Harriet Lamb says:

“Reducing overseas development aid is short term penny-pinching as a global crisis hits the poorest hardest. Ashden welcomes the commitment to returning to 0.7% of national income in the long term, but today’s cut will be felt keenly by the most vulnerable in the world.

“Instead of slashing aid, we should be supporting the work of organisations tackling ongoing poverty and the impact of coronavirus. These include clean energy companies providing vital electricity, clean water and safer cooking in disadvantaged communities. These enterprises are in grave danger and urgently need grants and investment.

As part of our commitments to tackling climate change, we hope our country’s aid spending can be used to prioritise smart, decentralising infrastructure that builds resilience in communities and is a springboard for improved livelihoods and a greener future.”

Background: Ashden is a signatory of the joint NGO BOND letter sent to government this week, which calls on the Government not to reduce aid spending. Ashden’s new report Transforming Energy Access: an Ecosystem Approach highlights that without extra funding, vital and life-saving social enterprises and organisations will collapse or be in jeopardy around the world.

Ashden’s response on the National Infrastructure Strategy

Cara Jenkinson, Ashden Cities Manager, says:

“We welcome the focus on decarbonising the economy in the new National Infrastructure Strategy. It is disappointing though that there was no clarity on long term policy and funding for retrofitting of buildings, or details of support for local government who will play an indispensable role in delivering on energy efficiency goals.

“Reform to the Green Book appraisal process so that it considers wider policy objectives is good news but government missed an opportunity to specifically include the economic costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

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