On 11 March 2020 the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the first budget of the new Government. Along with a fiscal package to help mitigate against the economic and social costs of COVID-19 the budget also contained a large number of announcements for the tech sector.
The Chancellor fired the starting gun last week on a 30 year tax and spend race to help meet the 2050 net zero emissions target. Combined with policies around market development and shifting towards renewables, the UK needs a whole government approach – and a lot of money – to get anywhere near the target. We’re still not much nearer the promised Treasury analysis of exactly how to pay for net zero, but the sooner we see it the better.
To reach the net zero target industry has a good story to tell. The World Economic Forum believes digital tools can cut global emissions by 15% and in a way that delivers growth. Many of those tools will be things like automated energy management and IoT which means those deploying it will see lower energy costs (the single biggest cost to most sectors), plant and machinery in life for longer and better productivity.
We can’t also just limit our ambitions to carbon though. How we manage resources and stimulate investment in green tech is also vital. The budget introduced a series of measures to achieve aiming to deliver on key environmental goals to through investment and a tax on harmful resource use, such as non-recycled plastics.
- Energy Innovation Programme size doubled. BEIS will receive twice as much money for the Energy Innovation Programme which funds research and trials for smart systems, energy efficiency, CCS and support for start-ups and green financing. More details of how this money will be spent will be forthcoming throughout 2020.
- Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund A new Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund to establish CCS in at least two UK sites, one by the mid-2020s, a second by 2030. There is also a plan to build a CCS power plant using consumer subsidies.
- New Green Gas Levy and Climate Change Agreements to continue for a further two years A Green Gas Levy to help fund greener fuel uptake, increase the Climate Change Levy that businesses pay on gas, and reopen/ extend the Climate Change Agreement scheme by two years.
- Mobility Drivers will never be over 30 miles away from a rapid charging station, as well as £532 million for consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles, and reduces taxes on zero emission vehicles.
- Plastic Packaging Tax A £200 per tonne tax on plastic packaging manufacturers and importers for packaging containing less than 30% recycled material.
- A new EPR scheme for packaging and digital waste tracking. £700,000 for an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme to incentivise producers to make packaging more sustainable and also funds a new digital waste tracking system.