The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, has set out his first (and last) Autumn Statement, unveiling a number of immediate investments intended to create ‘an economy that works for everyone’. The Autumn Statement is an update on the Government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility and sets out the Government taxation and spending plans.
The Statement had little impact on energy markets however there were some pledges to note. The cap on the Carbon Price Support rates of £18t/CO2 will remain, uprated with inflation to 2020. In addition, the Government will set out the future of the Levy Control Framework in Budget 2017 and has restated its commitment to decarbonising the economy while limiting costs to consumers. There will also be a Green Paper published in the spring of 2017 that will examine the retail energy markets to ascertain how developments can make these more fair for consumers
Although climate campaigners will welcome investment in low emission vehicles and the news that the carbon price cap will be maintained, the Autumn Statement notably did not mention climate change. The Government is apparently failing to deliver the spending commitments and policies necessary to meet the UK’s current carbon targets and the commitments made in the Paris Agreement at this time. The UK has been identified as having the second-highest number of deaths from NO2 pollution in Europe and concerns are continually being raised on the effectiveness of the government policies aimed at improving the impact that the UK has on the environment. It is therefore disappointing that Philip Hammond has not taken this opportunity to address these matters more effectively. With two budgets scheduled for 2017 (due to the decision to scrap the autumn statement in favour of the annual budget announcement taking place at this time) is it too optimistic to hope that the Government will take action to meet the requirements of the COP21 Agreement that was officially ratified by the UK only days before the latest budget announcement? One can hope but can only wait and see.