July 6, 2020 / 10:43 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-UK's Sunak to spend 3 billion pounds on green projects in economy plan

(Adds comments by co-executive director of Green New Deal UK)

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will earmark 3 billion pounds ($3.75 billion) to create green jobs and improve the energy efficiency of public buildings when he announces his broader plans to kickstart the economy on Wednesday.

A third of the package would be spent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from public-sector buildings, such as schools and hospitals, and from social housing, the finance ministry said.

Heating buildings accounts for almost a fifth of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions, making the investment a key part of Britain’s attempts to be a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050, the finance ministry added.

Sunak is expected to focus Wednesday’s announcement mostly on how the government will try to counter a jump in unemployment caused by the lockdown of much of the economy in late March which is now being relaxed only gradually.

Sunak has already announced emergency measures worth an estimated 133 billion pounds ($166 billion), much of it to try to stem the rise in unemployment.

Britain’s finance ministry was not immediately able to say whether the 3 billion-pound plan represented new investment by the government or previously earmarked funds.

The package would include a new, 40 million-pound fund dedicated to cleaning up nature and planting trees which would back up to 5,000 new jobs, the finance ministry said.

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the spending announcement.

“Government says it wants to ‘build back better’ and this announcement could mark a step in the right direction,” Fatima Ibrahim, co-executive director of Green New Deal UK, a nonprofit organisation committed to social, economic and climate justice, said in a statement.

“But to deliver on its promises, we need to see a lot more commitment and ambition,” Ibrahim added.

“With the Government’s own manifesto promising 9.2 billion pounds on energy efficiency alone, we look forward to seeing the full details on delivery of its ambition to build back greener,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said. ($1 = 0.7996 pounds) (Reporting by William Schomberg in London Additional reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor Editing by David Milliken and Matthew Lewis)

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