• Weather and Climate / Budget Preparations

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    03 August 2018

    Weather and Climate

    At the time of writing we are on the verge of seeing UK temperatures break their all time record for July. Expecting around 38.5 degrees – that’s hot. In Greece where temperatures have recently reached as high as 40 degrees we have seen the extraordinarily distressing sights of the fires around Athens that have so far claimed over 80 lives. High winds which often switched direction in a flash swept the blaze at astonishing speeds leaving people with very little time to retreat. Families trapped between fire and the sea. Our thoughts are with all those affected in this truly agonising tragedy. So what is going on? There is a key difference of course between weather (basically relatively short term changes in the climate) and climate itself which is about the longer-term patterns of weather. So we cannot extrapolate from a relatively short period of excessively hot weather to concluding that climate change is occurring although there is no doubt in my mind that global warming is happening and most scientists believe this too. It is certainly the case that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising rapidly. For the last 400,000 years the Co2 level has been at less than 300 parts per million Since around 1950 it has rocketed up and is now around 400 parts per million. As we grapple to reduce carbon production we are unfortunately not going to be able to turn it around without further increases – meaning hotter and more extreme weather to come. Whether it is the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles, the end of coal fired power generation or better energy savings through improved building design, the government is working hard to get our carbon dioxide production down. And we are making progress – in 2016 the UK’s production of carbon was assessed as being 41% below its 1990 level and we are working hard to hit our target of an 80% reduction by 2050.

    Budget Preparations

    Over the summer I will be flat out considering the taxation options for the forthcoming Autumn Budget. This is a long process in which just about every possible tax combination is considered. Overall through borrowing, controlling spending and taxation we will need to fund the substantial increase in resources that we have announced for our NHS. A whopping additional £84 billion over the next 5 years. I tend to rank the various potential tax changes in terms of yield and deliverability – there is little point in looking at a tax change that cannot be delivered in parliament. At the same time I am always looking out for ways in which our taxation system can be simplified and wherever possible taxes reduced especially for the less well off. Many of these are pretty big decisions and great care has to be taken to make sure that the decisions are the right ones.

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