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Autumn Statement: Chancellor must put our health, homes and quality of life first

news release

The Chancellor must prioritise peoples’ health, homes and quality of life in next week’s Autumn Statement, Friends of the Earth said today.

The environment charity warned that George Osborne’s relentless support of powerful interests and big polluters was having a massively detrimental impact on the wellbeing of people and the planet:

• 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 proposing to build more roads;

• Tens of thousands of people die every year because they live in poorly insulated, cold homes. But George Osborne has not only ignored calls for a major home insulation programme – he’s also 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 half a billion pounds below what Government 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 is going ‘all out for shale’ and making it easier for fracking firms to operate;

• 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 billions of pounds in tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.

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

“Tens of thousands of people die prematurely in Britain every year because they are forced to breathe dirty air or live in cold, heat-leaking homes. And communities up and down the country live in fear of flooding or fracking on their doorstep.

“The Government must put the well-being of people in Britain first – but all too often the Chancellor has championed big business and their profits, despite the impact this has on our health, homes and quality of life.

“We need to build a clean, modern and prosperous economy that’s fit for the challenges of the 21st century such as energy efficiency, clean power and efficient public transport – not more gas and oil, roads and heat-leaking homes that heat the planet instead of people.”

Friends of the Earth is calling 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 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’.

More information is contained in Friends of the Earth’s pre-autumn statement briefing – see below


Notes to editors:

1. A Friends of the Earth briefing ahead of the Autumn Statement.

For press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust

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