It is budget day today here in the UK and it is probably the trickiest budget to pull off in living memory. The big question is whether Gordon Brown and his chancellor Alistair Darling will stick their neck out and go green in a big way. The world and his Portuguese water dog has been proclaiming that the recession/world economic crisis/credit crunch is the ideal opportunity to build a low carbon economy in place of the collapsed oil-fuelled one we've had for the last 100 years or so. The (now) environmental economist Nick Stern (he of the Stern report) has recommended 20% of financial stimulus packages for green measures as a minimum. So how well is this going in practice?
According to the Financial Times the UK has committed a measley 7% , the US 12% and South Korea a whopping 81%. China, long blamed by Western politicians and NGOs for its environmental record, has the biggest single green investment of $221bn (38%). Gordon Brown has pledged to up the UK's game to 10%, but we'll have to wait for Darling to drone his way to the environmental part of today's speech to find if we'll meet even that.
It is interesting that, despite all the proclamations of world leadership on this issue from the White House and Nos 10 & 11 Downing St, it is the Far East which is leading the way.
+++ Update 13:15 +++
The chancellor has just announced an extra £1bn for green measures - if this is truly additional to that announced before, then this would boost the green incentivisation to 11.7%. The billion breaks down into £435m extra for energy efficiency measures, £525m for offshore wind. There will also be support for using waste heat from power generation by exempting them from the Climate Change Levy. Verdict so far: not bad.