The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has seen is resource budget increase by 2.2% for 2020-21 in the government’s 2019 Spending Round.
Announced on 4 September by Chancellor Sajid Javid, BEIS was given an extra £30mn to go towards new projects that will help to accelerate the UK’s progress to its 2050 net zero target. DEFRA, meanwhile, was given a 3.3% increase in its budget, with Javid stating the extra funds would task the department with ensuring the country has “world leading environment standards” after Brexit. The government also announced at least £250mn would be provided to the international climate and environment funds – including the Green Climate Fund, which is tasked with helping to meet the Paris Agreement.
Despite a negative reaction to the figure given to BEIS, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Chris Stark, insisted there were causes for optimism – noting the £30mn figure was ‘admin’ and programme expenditure, meaning there could be a “potentially huge increase” in staffing on net zero. Stark noted that this had mere been a review of the government’s resource spend – rather than something intended to move major capital programmes – and with many net zero policies infrastructure based, instead of about resource expenditure, it made achieving major shifts unlikely.
Stark added that the Treasury was preparing to do a review on how the costs of net zero are being managed and labelled it “essential”. This review on net zero would then feed into a Comprehensive Spending Review, explained Stark, weeks before the UK potentially hosts COP26. Stark said: “Those are as good a set of conditions as I can think of to move policy up a gear over the next 12 months.”