Doug Parr, director of policy at Greenpeace, has said that the environmental campaigning group was “disappointed about what Jeremy Hunt didn’t provide” for the UK’s green spending in the recent spring 2024 budget.

Speaking on GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence podcast, Parr joined CEO of The Climate Group Helen Clarkson and protest liaison for Extinction Rebellion Richard Ecclestone to discuss the UK’s green investment. Their insights considered recent analysis revealing the UK to be the worst of the top Western European economies for green spending.

Parr explained that Greenpeace had hoped to see “more electric vehicles, much more emphasis on getting our housing stock right and … more of a plan around the industrial transition.”

His comments followed Greenpeace’s response to the budget in which Aakash Naik, its head of climate justice, said that the chancellor had “completely botched it.”

The guests also considered where the UK should prioritise spending, what the obstacles to the green transition are and whether nuclear power could bridge the gap between fossil fuels and renewables.

Clarkson suggested in the podcast that the phrase “green spending” was misleading and that its use should be reconsidered.

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“I’m starting to think about how we talk about when we talk about green spending, and I think, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t even categorize it like that. The UK, along with most other countries in the world now, has a net zero target: our goal is net zero by 2050. What that means is actually everything that we do, everything that the UK spends money on, we should be thinking about making that expenditure fit for a zero carbon economy.”

However, all of the guests highlighted a need for more green spending in the UK, with Parr and Clarkson both calling specifically for investment in energy infrastructure and raising concerns about the unpreparedness of the grid.

Parr said: “The thing that gives me sleepless nights is that too often we have a political system that will mouth the right platitudes around climate change, but, when things get slightly tough, they’ll run away.

“There’s no real depth of certainty and conviction around making stuff happen, when sometimes it does need political leadership, it does need something to happen from the top to make it work. I’ve outlined how renewables are now cheaper, and there are ways of accommodating the variability of wind and solar, but you need to build the grid system to make that work.”