Spending Review: reaction from Friends of the Earth and WWF-UK

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The House of Commons and Big Ben, London

On Wednesday afternoon Chancellor George Osborne delivered the first Comprehensive Spending Review of this Parliament. This is the reaction of Friends of the Earth and WWF-UK.

Responding to the Chancellor’s speech Friends of the Earth senior economics campaigner David Powell said: “The Chancellor’s green-bashing is a further reminder that our environment is not safe in his hands.

“With critical climate talks in Paris just around the corner, George Osborne has shown he couldn’t be less interested in green investment and building a low-carbon future.

“A huge gaping hole remains in the Government’s flood defence budget – until that’s plugged, people will increasingly be put at risk of flooding as climate change takes hold.

“And, on the day that new figures revealed over 43,000 excess winter deaths last year, the Chancellor’s callous cuts to home insulation schemes is an attack on the most vulnerable people.”

Responding to the reductions to DECC and Defra funding, WWF-UK Chief Executive David Nussbaum said: “Failure to invest in the natural environment that underpins our economy means the UK will lose out on growth, jobs and international competitiveness – the very issues that George Osborne is so exercised about. It’s good that the Chancellor has protected budgets for forests and national parks but it’s now vital that the Government sets out how it will work with businesses and communities to protect our natural resources, including our seas and rivers, through its 25 year plan for nature.

“Today’s cuts will imperil the environment and undermine the economy. And as we approach the Paris talks, an extensive road building programme sends a depressing signal about the gap between what the UK says on the international stage and what it is prepared to invest in at home.

“How will a depleted Defra have the muscle within Whitehall to stand up for our natural world, at a time when 60% of UK species are in decline? How will a disempowered DECC accelerate the essential transition to a low-carbon economy? And how can the UK lead internationally if we are cutting funding to improve the energy efficiency of our homes? The Government must do better than this if it is to live up to its aspiration to leave nature in a better state than it was when it took office.”