Once again the Chancellor George Osborne has put polluters ahead of people, Friends of the Earth said today in reaction to the Autumn Statement.

Friends of the Earth’s Senior Economics Campaigner David Powell said:

The Chancellor has served up plenty of environmental gloom – with precious little silver lining.

“Mr Osborne yet again put powerful interests and big polluters ahead of our health, homes and wellbeing.

“The Chancellor has cut tax for dirty gas and oil, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of the need to end our fossil fuel dependency.

“George Osborne’s response to Britain’s filthy air and heat-leaking homes that kill tens of thousands of vulnerable people every year is to build new roads and ignore calls for a comprehensive energy efficiency programme.

“We have the ingenuity and resources to overcome the challenges we face and create an economy that benefits us all – but once again the people pulling the levers of power have let us down.”

Friends of the Earth says the Autumn Statement fails people and the planet for a number of reasons, including:

Pollution 2 (PD)• Tens of thousands of people die prematurely in Britain every year because of the nation’s dirty and unlawful air quality, mainly caused by traffic. Yet rather than tackling the problem the Chancellor is to spend £15bn on road schemes that are likely to increase traffic levels;

• Tens of thousands of people die every year because they live in poorly insulated, cold homes. But George Osborne has ignored calls for a comprehensive home insulation programme – he has previously cut back on schemes that already existed;

• Hundreds of thousands of people live in homes threatened by flooding – and more are at risk from the impacts of climate change. However, spending on flood defences is at least half a billion pounds below what experts say is required to keep pace with global warming;

• Polls show that people do not want shale gas exploration and fracking in their neighbourhoods, but the Chancellor has blown more air into the UK’s over-hyped fracking industry;

• Despite growing and more urgent calls from the scientific community for nations to end their reliance on fossil fuels to avert catastrophic climate change, the Chancellor has handed out more tax cuts to the oil and gas industry;

Friends of the Earth had called on the Chancellor to deliver a forward-thinking Autumn statement for people and the environment, including:

• Overhauling the Government infrastructure plans to prioritise the phasing out of fossil fuels and give less cash to polluting infrastructure like roads;

• Introducing a national and comprehensive programme to insulate our cold, heat-leaking homes;

• Protect households from climate change by increasing investment in flood defences in line with rising flood risk;

• Give schools permission to borrow funds to enable them to invest in solar power, so they can cut future fuel bills and produce clean energy for the nation;

• Giving the Treasury an additional, top-line aim of driving rapid carbon reduction, resource efficiency and a focus on improving wellbeing;

• Pledging to deliver a ‘Stern Review for Resources’.

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