UK Treasury pushing back against Boris’s costly green agenda

  • Date: 15/11/20
  • The Observer

Boris Johnson’s much vaunted 10-point plan to ‘build back green’ is in doubt as government coffers face unprecedented pressure

Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak in Downing Street. The Treasury is said to be pushing back against the prime minister’s green agenda. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Boris Johnson’s plans to relaunch his premiership with a blitz of announcements on combating climate change and the creation of tens of thousands of new green jobs are meeting stiff resistance from the cash-strapped Treasury, the Observer has been told.

Senior figures in Whitehall and advisers to the government on environmental issues say negotiations on the content of a major environmental speech by the prime minister are still ongoing between No 10, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with just days to go before Johnson delivers the keynote address.

The speech, containing a 10-point plan, has already been repeatedly delayed as government attention has been focused on the fight against Covid-19 and multibillion-pound measures by the Treasury to keep the economy and business afloat during the resulting economic crisis. On Thursday, however, the prime minister made clear his determination to press ahead with the speech, tweeting that it would be of historic importance and was imminent.

He said: “We’re one year out from hosting @COP26 in Glasgow. There is no time to waste and we have to act now to take bold action in the fight against climate change. I’m looking forward to shortly setting out my 10-point plan to create thousands of green jobs in the UK.” […]

But many of these pledges involve long-term financial commitments of funding and subsidy which the Treasury is reluctant to make until the extent of the bills from the Covid crisis are better known.

“The Treasury is fighting back hard against a lot of the green plans and there is a battle going on with No 10,” said a source close to the talks. “The PM wants to get on with it, with plans for the long term, but he is meeting a lot of resistance. You would expect that from the Treasury but with Covid it is of another order.”

Full story

see also

** GWPF welcomes delay to UK energy white paper

** The astronomical costs of decarbonising UK housing (pdf)

** Boris Johnson overrules Rishi Sunak to finance green funds that fiancee Carrie Symonds supports despite opposition from a sceptical Treasury

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