25 November 2008

UK extends renewable support, slows car tax hike

British finance minister Alistair Darling on Monday extended mandates for renewable energy by 10 years to 2037 but cut planned tax hikes on inefficient cars, juggling combined climate and recession fears.

Darling also announced a 535 million pounds ($797.8 million) cash injection into rail transport, energy efficiency measures and environmental protection, as part of a plan to bring forward capital spending to boost demand in a flagging economy.

Britain's renewable energy scheme sets mandatory targets for utilities to get electricity from low-carbon sources. It has been the main driver for green energy growth in Britain to date.

"Renewable energy along with nuclear power will play an increasing role in meeting our energy future," said Darling, announcing the ten-year extension.

"By requiring energy companies to generate a share of energy from renewable sources, that obligation will underpin investor confidence and support the development of renewable energy."

The low carbon industry could generate an extra 1 million "green collar" jobs in the next 20 years, he added.

But green groups said Darling's ambition was too modest, failing to grasp the opportunity to boost a low-carbon economy.

"This was an historic opportunity to invest billions in a low-carbon, high technology future, but the Chancellor blew it," said Greenpeace's John Sauven.

Darling announced an additional 100 million pounds in new money and brought forward another 50 million to help up to 60,000 households insulate their homes.

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Source: Reuters

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