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Facts behind the UK’s ‘green’ recovery

Green politics

Our investment in the transport and energy sectors falls far short of our neighbours’, write Dr Robin Russell-Jones and Dave Faulkner – and we are supporting airlines with no requirements to improve fuel efficiency

Ryanair Boeing 737 airliner jet plane landing at London Stansted Airport at dusk. ‘Bailing out fossil-fuel dependent industries such as airlines without imposing any climate change obligations is bad policy.’ Photograph: Avpics/Alamy Stock Photo

The investments made by the UK government in the transport and energy sectors as a result of the pandemic can usefully be compared with France and Germany using data from energypolicytracker.org (The Guardian view on the green recovery: Britain is being left behind, 28 July).

Overall subsidies are £11bn in the UK, £38.1bn in France, and £44.6bn in Germany, which includes their £9bn hydrogen strategy. All three countries are supporting airlines, but in the UK there is no requirement to improve fuel efficiency. The total investment in “green” energy and transport is £8.5bn in the UK, £19.1bn in France and £21.5bn in Germany. So the UK contribution is smaller and only 25% is targeted, compared with 97% in France and 92% in Germany.

An example of an unconditional subsidy is the £3bn allocated by the UK government towards improving the thermal efficiency of buildings. No details have been provided as to how this will work, and most of the £3bn appears to be recycled monies.

A targeted subsidy would be the £1.6bn bailout of Transport for London, but bailing out fossil-fuel dependent industries such as airlines without imposing any climate change obligations is bad policy, particularly in the run-up to Cop26.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Chair, Help Rescue the Planet
Dave Faulkner
Founder, Marlow CAN

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

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