6 Key Environmental Takeaways From the 2020 Budget | pebble magazine

6 Key Environmental Takeaways From the 2020 Budget

The Spring Budget 2020 held a fair few surprises and the biggest investment spending for a generation. But what does it mean for the environment? We take a quick look.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 11 March 2020


While Covid-19 (coronavirus) is front and centre of most people’s minds right now, we cannot forget the long game, and hoping that this is the government to really kick start protecting the environment, moving Britain to a carbon neutral economy by 2050 and helping to get the world back on track to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees as per the 2015 Paris Accord.

Hoping being the operative word there. But there were some green highlights of the Spring Budget, Rishi Sunak’s first.

6 Key Takeaways Of The 2020 Budget For The Environment

1. There will be a new plastic packaging tax

Details are scant at this stage but the Chancellor announced a new plastic packaging tax which will come into force in two years’ time in 2022. Manufacturers and importers who have less than 30% recyclable material in their packaging will be charged £200 per tonne.

The EU on the other hand will ban single use plastics next year in 2021, which will include single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers.

Plastic In Fashion1

Is the new plastic packaging tax going far enough?

2. More electric car charging

The government has pledged to ‘level up’ everyone’s access to an electric car charging point, often the weak link in getting more of us to switch to electric cars (which we will all have to do by 2035). 

There will now be £500m to ensure each of us is no more than 30 miles away from a point where they can charge up their car, with a mass rollout of rapid charging hubs. There will also be £900m for investment into new transportation, including electric cars.

This is what happened when I drove an electric car from London to Totnes.

3. New nature fund

There will be a new ‘nature for climate’ fund to protect natural habitats and help establish 30,000 hectares of new trees. £650m has been put aside for this and it will be interesting to see how and where this gets rolled out especially as Friends of the Earth say just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (compared to an EU average of 35%).

9 Ways You Can Plant More Trees This Year

9 Ways You Can Plant More Trees This Year  Trees For Cities

The UK needs to double its tree cover by 2045 to help move to a carbon neutral economy

3. Carbon capture and storage 

To help us move to a low carbon economy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) will get a big boost. Green and bio tech is where the government wants to see the UK excel and there will be £800m spent to establish at least two Carbon Capture and Storage clusters in the next decade.

4. No more tax relief on red diesel

Red diesel is a big polluter for off road vehicles like tractors so there won’t be any more tax relief on the fossil fuel, although farmers, fishermen and trains will still be able to claim the tax relief. While this tax relief isn’t due to end for two years (so could be a lot quicker), it is a move in the right direction.

5. Scottish distilleries to go green

In a move to boost regional food and drink sectors, especially around our heritage products like whiskey, it has been announced that there will be £10 million to help Scottish whiskey distilleries ‘go green’.

G & Tree: How To Launch Your Own Sustainable Gin Distillery

Georgina Wilson-Powell 11 March 2020