On a Budget from Downing Street to Dubai

Graphic depicting traditional red briefcase with green question mark in centre, against green backdrop.

New Writing: The Autumn Statement is due to be delivered by the UK Chancellor on the eve of COP28. Writing for The Hub, the award-winning content platform curated by Mitsubishi Electric, Jim McClelland looks at what to expect from this budget and whether proximity of the global climate summit will have any real bearing on policy.

A UK Chancellor only really has two red-briefcase dates to put in their work diary — one in Spring, the other in Autumn — when the spotlight is guaranteed to shine on them. Each marks the day when they deliver a Budget or Statement to the House of Commons.

It is a very big deal. This is their moment. All eyes are on them. A Nation awaits…

However, such moments do not take place in isolation. There is always a political context to consider. In this particular case, when it comes to the green policy agenda, the UK Prime Minister has already most definitely set the tone; and not in a good way.

Bonfire of green policies and targets

In June this year, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had already committed to granting hundreds of new oil and gas licences for exploration and extraction in the North Sea.

Then last month, in the first real move of a pre-Election campaign, the PM poured gasoline on a pile of green policies, lit a match, and basked in the warmth of right-wing approval.

So, where does this incendiary assault on green issues leave an under-pressure Chancellor about to deliver his Autumn Statement, on the eve of COP28, in Dubai?

More damp squibs, few fireworks

Well, the thematic programme for COP28 does forecast that Finance will emerge as a pivotal cross-cutting theme, intricately entwined with Climate Transition & Adaptation.

However, given that this UK Chancellor is the same Jeremy Hunt MP who recently chose to travel by plane rather than train from Manchester to London, green expectations are frankly pretty low.

Furthermore, in the current economic climate, Government money is tight. There is very little to play with in terms of spending and investment. So, dangling carrots is difficult to do.

Things are also getting tactical. If a General Election were to be called for next Spring, it could be in Conservative Party interests to store up some fiscal goodies to boost support at the ballot box.

Unfortunately, however, the reality is the current incumbents of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street just do not seem to care enough about climate action as a vote-winning issue.

Climate change is coming home

Ironically, though, there are actually millions of good reasons for them to care — all of which are to be found on their very own doorstep; and every one worth a Pound.

Using a digital twin of the Earth, a team of scientists at climate risk analytics provider Climate X has been able to predict how extreme weather events fuelled by the changing climate can impact properties, infrastructure or assets under different emissions scenarios.

What the findings show is that UK government assets across London, from 10 Downing Street to the Houses of Parliament, are already being impacted by climate change. In fact, collective climate-related losses to these buildings are projected to reach £1.7M by 2030.

Now, surely that is a figure that should focus political minds and feature in any budget?

To preview the UK’s pre-COP fiscal policy prospects in more depth, check out the article in full here:

On a Budget from Downing Street to Dubai

To view a back-catalogue of articles authored by Jim McClelland for ‘The Hub’, please see archive here.

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