UK commits £400m ($530m) for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Big Ben photo
CC BY 2.0 Phil Dolby

That wasn't the only green measure in the latest budget either.

As predicted, the UK's Conservative government's new budget includes a "call for evidence" for how taxes and other mechanisms could be used to reduce single-use plastic waste. But that's by no means the only green feature of the latest budget.

Other measures include:

—£400m ($530m) for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
—£100m ($132m) for a plug-in car grant
—£40m ($53m) for charging research & development
—Clarifications to the law so drivers will not face taxes if charging at work
—1/3 off rail fares for 4.5 million people aged between 26-30
—1% increase in company car tax for diesel vehicles
—An increase in taxes on new cars that do not meet the latest EU6 emissions band

At first glance, this actually looks like a pretty decent—if not revolutionary—haul for the green economy. And it is in keeping with recent headlines suggesting post-Brexit Britain is still betting on green growth. (This will no doubt drive the climate skeptic UK Independence Party and Nigel Farage nuts.) Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party has pledged to factor the cost of climate change into all future economic projections, should the party be voted back into office.

It seems to me like there's some decent competition now going on between the parties, and the once ascendent climate skeptic wing of the Conservatives has finally been shushed into submission. As I argued in my previous article on climate bi-partisanship, my point is not that either party is now "green" or sufficiently serious about the low carbon transition. It's merely that the conversation has now shifted, and the debate starts from a better place than it did just a few short years ago.

It's not all good news, though. The budget did include a straight up tax break for investment in North Sea oil, as well as a freeze on fuel duty increases. While not mentioned in the Chancellor's speech (of course), there was also a freeze on financial support for renewables.

These measures are a blow to those of us who believe we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground at all costs. But between electric trucks, cars, buses and even planes, car-free cities and serious investment in bikes as transportation, I suspect we may soon be reaching a tipping point when investors start questioning the long-term wisdom of financing fossil fuels.

National Geographic recently reported that massive infrastructure projects like pipelines, mines, power plants and dams are failing at unprecedented rates, and it cited partial blame/credit for these failures on the increased competitive of clean technology.

It's good to see the UK government recognizing which way the wind is blowing.

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