UK “worst” of top Western European economies for green spending


UK government

The UK government ranks worst out of the top 5 Western European economies on green spending, a new Greenpeace analysis said.

Greenpeace examined the International Energy Agency (IEA) government energy spending tracker, which monitored spending between 2020-2023. The tracker measures two types of energy spending: clean energy investment support and consumer energy affordability measures.

For this analysis, Greenpeace said it removed consumer energy affordability measures, which include all measures intended to help consumers and enterprises with high energy prices following the global energy crisis.

Greenpeace said out of the biggest 5 Western European economies, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK, the UK government spends the least in total and also comes out worst for per capita green energy spending. The UK spent the least, both in total and per capita, when including Consumer energy affordability measures, Greenpeace said.

Commenting on the analysis, Greenpeace UK Climate Campaigner, Georgia Whitaker, said: “We urgently need a bold green industrial strategy to boost our flailing economy, help ordinary people with the cost of living, and tackle the climate crisis.

We urgently need a bold green industrial strategy to boost our flailing economy.

“Green infrastructure investment, with a focus on renewable energy, insulating our homes and making transport greener would do just that.”

The analysis found that the UK has the lowest total spend on low carbon and efficient transport out of those countries. Transport was the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK in 2021, producing 26% of the UK’s total emissions (427 MtCO2e), government statistics showed.

Italy spends 47.8 billion USD on low carbon and energy-efficient transport compared to 13.1 billion in the UK, while Germany spends 38.1 billion USD, the Greenpeace analysis found.

France spends 28.5 billion USD on energy-efficient buildings and industry compared to the UK’s 14.6 billion, Greenpeace said.

Bob Ward, the policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, commented: “There is now very clear evidence that the UK has been investing much less than its competitors across a range of areas, including on tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.

“This low investment explains why productivity has stagnated in the UK and growth has been so feeble.”

The Spring Budget

Jeremy Hunt Spring Budget

In the Spring Budget, Jeremy Hunt announced the standard rate of Landfill tax will rise to £126.15 per tonne and the lower rate will rise to £4.05 per tonne in 2025-26. However, multiple organisations in the resources and waste sector criticised the Chancellor for what was described as not investing in the green energy transition.

Reacting to the budget, Shaun Spiers, Executive Director of Green Alliance, said: “In contrast to the EU and US who are investing at scale in the energy transition, the chancellor has today put short-term political advantage ahead of the investment the UK economy urgently requires.”

Former CIWM President, Dr Adam Read, Chief External Affairs and Sustainability Officer, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, said: “We are deeply disappointed to see the waste and resources sector overlooked once again in today’s Budget.

“Today represented a real opportunity for the Chancellor to lay the groundwork for the seismic reform needed to make green growth a reality, yet the reality is there was nothing encouraging on offer for the sector from today’s announcements.”

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