Philip Hammond, eco-warrior
Being a political nerd, I put UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement (a mini-budget in effect) on the telly while I was working on Wednesday afternoon. Given Hammond’s renowned dullness (his nickname Box Office Phil is heavily sarcastic), and his previous budget formula of one minor positive green announcement swiftly counterbalanced by a negative, I wasn’t expecting to be distracted from my work too much.
How wrong I was.
Hammond pulled a lot of great green stuff out of the bag saying he wanted to “build sustainability into the heart of our economic model.” The proposals included:
- A Future Homes Standard, mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new houses from 2025
- More green gas into the gas network
- A call for evidence on whether all passenger carriers should be required to offer genuinely additional carbon offsets
- The Environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England – i.e. every development will have to demonstrate that it will improve biodiversity
- A comprehensive global review of the link between biodiversity and economic growth
- A new 445,000 square kilometre marine reserve at Ascension Island
If Hammond thought this would garner him media kudos (there’s lots of leadership manoeuvring going on in the Tory party at the mo’), he’s probably quite disappointed. Only a few national newspapers seemed to pick up on the green angle, and the TV punditry focussed on what he said about the financial implications of Brexit. A number of prominent Green activists latched onto the offsetting proposal and slagged it off.
This is a shame – we should be welcoming moves like this, spurring on our politicians of all political stripes and encouraging them to do more. I’ve never voted Conservative, and I don’t expect I ever will, but I would like to say “Thank you, Mr Hammond. More of the same, please!”