Friends of the Earth Scotland media briefing.
The Chancellor should announce the formation of a Green Investment Bank. The new bank should focus on providing soft loans to job-rich green investments such as energy conservation, renewables, public transport and waste reduction and recycling. Friends of the Earth Scotland opposes a Green Investment Bank providing any funding for the nuclear industry, and note that unless such funding was on a fully commercial basis, the government would be breaking its promise not to provide any public subsidy for nuclear power. Friends of the Earth Scotland supports the dismantling of financial institutions in majority public ownership, such as RBS, to provide additional resources and capacities for a Green Investment Bank.
The Chancellor should take this opportunity to unilaterally introduce a small and permanent financial transactions tax, or 'Tobin tax', to help reduce financial speculation, and to fund international development and climate change mitigation.
The Chancellor should introduce temporary tax measures to tax banks' profits and bonus funds as a means of encouraging financial institutions to reinvest in productive lending.
The Chancellor should resist pressure from lobbyists to defer fuel duty rises. The widening gap between private and public transport costs is responsible for significant social disadvantage and additional climate changing emissions. Friends of the Earth Scotland supports the idea of a fuel duty escalator/regulator to ensure steady and predictable rises in fuel tax, rather than the ad-hoc stop-start approaches to fuel duty rises that have marked this government's approach.
The Chancellor should announce plans to at least double the share of tax revenues arising from green taxes in the coming decade – as suggested by the Green Fiscal Commission. Additional green taxes should include tax on waste going to incinerators as well as waste going to landfill. The Chancellor and commit to offsetting the majority of such rises with net reductions in national insurance (the tax on jobs), by providing provide green tax breaks to businesses and householders. He should also commit to spend any remaining revenue supporting green development.
The Chancellor should grant 100 per cent capital allowances to manufacturing facilities for renewable technologies, cut employers' National Insurance contributions for renewable energy firms, and provide retraining grants – following the model established in the USA in January 2010. He should also cut VAT on home refurbishment for energy saving, to reduce the cost of installing energy efficiency measures, and give a Stamp Duty Rebate to people who make green improvements to homes they've just bought.
Friends of the Earth Scotland Scotland Chief Executive Duncan McLaren will be available on Budget Day Wednesday 24 March for commentary and response.
For media enquiries please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719
Friends of the Earth Scotland is the country's leading independent environmental campaigning organisation, and is the only organisation in Scotland that is working for environmental justice, campaigning for the planet and its people. www.foe-scotland.org.uk