Bad boy, George

The last-minute change to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme grabs an extra £1bn a year for the exchequer, transforming a complex, revenue-neutral incentive scheme into a complex new carbon tax. No one saw it coming

Before the election, the then shadow chancellor George Osborne used to give speeches about how Labour had given green taxes – fundamentally a good thing – a bad name.

Now, in the heat and rush of the comprehensive spending review, that is exactly what he has done with his surprising last-minute raid on the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (see p 7).

Instead of being recycled back to CRC participants in line with energy saving merit, all the money raised by allowance sales will now go to the Treasury – and not necessarily be spent on cutting carbon.

The last-minute change grabs an extra £1bn a year for the exchequer, transforming a complex, revenue-neutral incentive scheme into a complex new carbon tax. No one saw it coming.

At a time of growing moans from business and think tanks about the plethora of overlapping financial instruments targeting energy and emissions, the changed CRC scheme is now just one more. It muddies the water for the forthcoming reform of energy markets and the climate change levy.

Industry’s anger is justified and understandable. The one positive is that the rejigged CRC might just cut more carbon.

We’ve been gradually, carefully changing the design of the ENDS Report to make it easier to read and navigate. In this issue, we take a further step by reorganising the content under new section headings closely aligned with the ten subject-based ‘channels’ on our website, www.endsreport.com.

We hope this makes it easier for subscribers to find the information they need. The climate/environment space has expanded enormously over the past decade, and what happens within it has become much more complex. Some kind of ordering is required.

There are many ways in which to carve up this rich, multi-layered cake for the different types of environmental, carbon and sustainability professionals we serve, working in many and varied fields. None will be perfect. This is our best attempt to bring order to the current shape of things while continuing to offer comprehensive coverage in print and online.

We’d welcome your thoughts. And we’d encourage all our subscribers to take a fresh look at www.endsreport.com. You’ll find a stream of fresh articles – news, in-depth analysis and comment – appearing there in the interval between the ENDS Report arriving each month. As our website develops it will continue to provide an easily-searched archive for everything that goes into the print issue.

One more thing. We’d be delighted to see subscribers at our annual lecture on Thursday, November 18 (see p 8).

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