Budget failure on cycling & climate

12th March 2020

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak, by Chris McAndrew, Licence CC BY 3.0, annotated by HedgehogCycling

Chancellor Rishi Sunak failed utterly in yesterday's budget. He presented a plan to vastly increase transport emissions, with a splurge on high-carbon roads, and had nothing to offer on cycling.

We know we have a climate crisis, and an emergency plan to reduce emissions must be the top priority. This budget is a total failure on that score. It's a shirking of responsibility, it will make non-Tory voters (who are the majority in the UK) despair. It makes a mockery of any pretence to green credentials by this government.

As temperatures spiral out of control, as property and lives are lost in fires, as homes are flooded, and as wildlife perishes, what should people say about this budget, this government?


Sustrans pointed out that the budget allocates £27 billion for new main roads, but commits no new funding for active travel.

Sustrans CEO Xavier Brice said, 'Making it easy for people to choose healthier ways to travel will fight climate change, rising levels of congestion, toxic air, inactivity and social islolation, and needs to be a priority for the long term health of our society and economy.' Unfortunately, the wrong people are in government and we're not getting any of that.

On the motorway to climate catastrophe

Damian Carrington says that the chancellor is '...headed off down the motorway towards climate catastrophe, all the while proclaiming his intention to protect the environment.'

'"Over £27bn of tarmac," he announced, for 4,000 miles of major new rods. In stark contrast, low-carbon transport was put in the slow lane, getting £1bn.' That £1bn is not for walking and cycling, it's for electric car charging and electric car subsidies.

Carrington points out that fuel duty was frozen again, even though transport emissions are the biggest single contributor to the UK's total emissions.