U.K. Lags European Neighbors in Green Recovery Promises

The U.K. government promised a green economic recovery, but so far it has fallen far short of what its European neighbors are offering.

Since May, the U.K. has announced a total green stimulus of 5.4 billion ($6.8 billion) pounds, which is just two-thirds of the money that will help polluting industries like airlines, according to BloombergNEF calculations.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak confirmed a 2 billion pound green homes grant to boost insulation rates in his summer statement on Wednesday. There was also 100 million pounds promised to support direct air capture technology and a 50-million-pound fund to decarbonize social housing.

“It’s a step in the right direction by targeting building efficiency, creating green jobs, but 3 billion pounds does not a green recovery make,” Victoria Cuming, a BNEF’s head of global policy, said.

Germany has announced 26 billion euros targeted at new investment in low-carbon technologies -- the total earmarked for hydrogen development alone is almost double what the U.K. has so far promised in total.

In Denmark, energy efficiency was the priority, which unveiled 30 billion krone ($4.6 billion) for green housing renovations.

The U.K’s green stimulus equates to $101 per person. By comparison, France’s package comes in at $292 per head, Germany’s at $389 and Denmark will spend $776 per person, Cuming said. In his speech on Wednesday, Sunak said further stimulus measures aimed at rebuilding the economy would be announced in a fall budget later this year.


While the U.K.’s stimulus investments will cut emissions by additional 0.5 million metric tons, that’s a tiny fraction of the annual pollution cuts that the U.K. needs to meet its legal obligations of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030.

The country’s annual emissions in 2019 stood at about 350 million metric tons. The Treasury made no mention of how much brown investment will increase emissions.

“Having made repeated statements about the need for a ‘green’ recovery, there are many aspects that this week’s announcements haven’t covered, such as renewable energy and electric vehicles,” said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

When asked about international comparisons on his green measures in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Sunak said the measures could not be compared like-for-like as other country’s spending plans are laid out for years to come.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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