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‘Overwhelming’ backing for strong climate action, UK study shows

climate

‘Overwhelming’ backing for strong climate action, UK study shows

The UK public backs a carbon tax on polluting industries, higher levies on flying and grants for heat pumps in order to tackle the climate crisis, according to the biggest analysis of policy preferences ever published.

Almost 22,000 people chose their favoured mix of policies to hit the government’s 2030 target for emissions cuts. A speed limit of 60mph on motorways and a campaign to reduce meat eating by 10% were also among the most popular measures, all of which had between 77% and 94% public support.

The public went further than the government, choosing to surpass the current carbon target by 3%. Age, location and political leaning made little difference to the policy choices, the researchers found, with an “overwhelming consensus” for strong and fair climate action.

The most popular suite of policies meant people earning less than £22,000 would be £44 a year better off, thanks to redistribution of the carbon tax to the less well-off and savings on heating and car bills. Those with incomes between £35,000 and £53,000 would pay £195 more a year to fund the policies. The policy suite was also estimated to support a million jobs by 2030.

The researchers said the public wanted the government to lead the transition to a net-zero economy, rather than leave it to tax measures and the market alone.

“The British public have chosen the future they want – one with green jobs, clean air and thriving nature – and which doesn’t hit the worst-off in the pocket,” said Tanya Steele, the CEO of WWF, which produced the report with thinktank Demos. “This is within our grasp, but only if the UK government listens and sets out a clear plan and strategy for getting there.”

The government has said it will publish its net-zero strategy before it hosts the crucial Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow from 1 November. The strategy will set out how the UK will meet its ambitious carbon targets and is seen as a key test of the nation’s credibility on climate.

The most popular policy mix selected by the public was:

  • A carbon tax of £75 per tonne on polluting manufacturing and construction businesses, with some funding to invest in new technologies, supported by 94% of people.
  • Better-integrated public transport coordinated by local government (93%).
  • Food campaigns and support from government, supermarkets and food companies promoting plant-based diets and cutting meat and dairy consumption by 10% (93%).
  • A comprehensive UK-wide electric vehicle charging network by 2028 (91%).
  • Raising flying costs, particularly on frequent fliers (89%).
  • Some restrictions on cars entering city centres and a 60mph speed limit on motorways (82%).
  • Support for less intensive farming and paying farmers to improve nature, including woodlands (79%).
  • Grants for heat pumps and home insulation for low-income households and low-interest loans for others, reaching 1.4m heat pump installations a year by 2030 (77%).

“There is an overwhelming consensus of support behind [these] solutions,” said Polly Mackenzie, the CEO of Demos. “The UK government must listen to the public and urgently set out a strategy that will provide a greener, stronger and better future for us all.”

The new analysis, titled The Climate Consensus, used a market research company to provide a nationally representative sample of 22,000 people, including participants from every parliamentary constituency. The participants used a climate calculator to choose the policies they preferred in order to meet the government’s 2030 target of a 39% reduction in emissions compared to 2019.

“The package that emerged is therefore more than just a list of popular policies: it is a measured set of choices, compromises and investments the public are prepared to make to tackle climate change,” the report said.

The range of policies offered by the calculator were taken from work by the government’s official climate change advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), while the emission reductions were calculated using a government tool. The analysis was funded by the National Grid and ScottishPower.

The UK has cut its emissions by almost half since 1990, largely by phasing out coal and installing renewables to generate electricity. However, future cuts will affect people much more directly, including their cars and home heating systems.

Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business and energy secretary, wrote in 2020: “It is important that we involve the public and bring them with us, so that the decisions we make align with society’s concerns and values.”

Last week, Chris Stark, the chief executive of the CCC, said a UK-wide public information campaign on climate change and net zero could usefully be deployed, as is already underway in Scotland.

“There’s this feeling often of how difficult this will be. [But] many of the changes are profoundly positive, not just for the climate but also for things like health, air quality and our experience generally.”

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UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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