Then Chancellor George Osborne has concluded his fifth budget with expectations low that there would be any positive news for the low-carbon economy.

In the end there was a £7 billion package to cut energy bills for intensive users, a pledge to milk the UK’s fossil fuel reserves and a freeze on the carbon floor prize that some have interpreted as a boon for the coal industry.

Below is a sample of reactions to the day’s announcements.

Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive, REA:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s acknowledgement that the way to bring down energy costs over the long-term is to invest in home-grown energy sources, including renewables, as well as energy efficiency. The Budget’s acknowledgement of a need to ‘reform and strengthen’ the EU Emissions Trading System is also welcome. But the new, short-term measures announced today in the energy sector do not reflect this ambition – and there is much more in this Budget to please fossil fuel companies than the green economy.

“By freezing the Carbon Price Floor, the Chancellor is rowing back on his own policy and once again moving the goalposts for investors in green energy. Government must explain in black and white how investment in renewables is protected from the freeze, or risk undermining the investment required to replace ageing coal power stations with technologies that can keep the lights on without damaging the climate.”

John Cridland, director-general, CBI:

“The Budget will put wind in the sails of business investment, especially for manufacturers.

“This was a make or break budget coming at a critical time in the recovery and the Chancellor has focussed his firepower on areas that have the potential to lock in growth.

“The CBI has pushed hard for this significant and much-needed energy package that will help keep manufacturing jobs in the UK, while underpinning vital investment in new energy.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group:

“The Chancellor made a commitment to “access every drop of oil we can” in the North Sea. We must see this same, if not greater, level of commitment from the government towards building a resilient renewable energy sector. There is the very real opportunity for the UK to cement its position as a global leader in renewable energy – our renewable energy capacity is only at 4.2%, and we are dwarfed by our European neighbours and only just greater than Malta and Luxembourg. We need to attract investors to our shores, protect the UK’s energy security and add to the 18,000 people already employed full time in the wind, wave and tidal energy sectors. To do this we must send a clear message to the world that the UK is open for business with a trained workforce and a government fully committed to a low carbon future.

“The Chancellor wants to see ‘made in Britain’ stamped on products across the world. So do we. I want to see these three words on solar panels, smart grids, LED lighting, wind turbines and the next new low carbon breakthrough. The current figures show the UK green economy growing at 5% per annum. It is the unsung hero keeping Britain’s economy moving. We know that the businesses we work with are ready, and we’re ready to work with this government to make it happen.”

Industry trade group Energy UK said:

“The energy industry supports families, businesses and communities and is playing a key role in the recovery of the UK economy through investment, jobs and competition. In the overall interests of the UK the energy industry supports capping the carbon price floor to keep costs down for heavy industrial energy users, to reduce the potential to create a cliff edge for coal generation and to help make sure there is more capacity available. But it also has downsides – an important one is that it worsens the economics of the essential generation of electricity from gas.

“Energy is complex and complicated and you cannot move one piece without a knock-on effect across the board.  Clear and stable policy is required to get the investment flowing to: start building our secure energy future now; bring new gas plant on stream to meet demand; provide the back-up needed for intermittent renewable generation; and create jobs. To get there we need a mature discussion, across all parties and with the public, about how the UK balances the cost of renewables and the impact on our bills with future security and continuing investment in jobs and technology.”

David Powell, economics campaigner, Friends of the Earth:

“Merely weeks after promising action on flooding and global warming, the best the Chancellor can manage is a U-turn on his own reckless flood defence cuts, and caving in to big business lobbying on pollution tax.

“Mr Osborne says he wants to make our economy ‘resilient’, but Britons face paying a hefty price for his failure to confront the reality of climate change.

“Freezing the carbon price floor is simply code for letting polluters pollute, while clean industries suffer ever more stifling restrictions.

“The money raised by this tax should be used to help homes and businesses become much more energy efficient – and bring down bills for good.

“The Chancellor’s dangerous fossil fuel fixation is storing up huge problems for the future.

“George Osborne’s pledge to extract every drop of oil and gas we can from the North Sea will completely undermine efforts to decarbonise the economy.”

Dane Wilkins, head of renewable energy capital at investment management firm JLL:

“From a renewables specific standpoint I am against freezing the carbon price floor at £18/tonne until 2020. This will only serve to undermine investor confidence in the UK renewables sector at a time when institutional funders have been actively looking to increase their exposure to this attractive asset class. While I recognise the cost of energy remains a political hot potato in the wake of the recession the urgency to decarbonise our economy continues to grow and setting a robust carbon price is an important means for achieving this.

“If the Government’s aim is to encourage low cost capital to invest into the renewable energy sector it is important to apply a consistent political message and policy approach. Given the carbon price support mechanism was only introduced two years ago freezing the price floor now merely adds to the perception of increased policy risk in the sector.”

John Alker, director of policy and Communications at UK-Green Building Council:

“Any real hope that the Chancellor is committed to the green agenda faded long ago but what remains deeply disappointing is that he doesn’t recognise a growth opportunity when he sees one. There continues to be a complete blind spot on the role that energy efficiency has to play in reducing consumer bills over the long-term, and generating home-grown jobs.

“A one-off £15 cut to household bills will be quickly forgotten – what is needed is long-term incentives to reduce the demand for energy in the first place.

“Hoped for clarity on zero carbon homes and non-domestic buildings was also conspicuous by its absence. With energy bills £800 less than the average home, you would have thought Government would want to shout about this policy from the roof-tops. Sadly, the future of Allowable Solutions still remains unclear.”

Elaine Coverley, head of equity research at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin:

“In-line with our expectations the Chancellor announced the carbon price floor will be frozen at the 2015/16 level of £18.08/t until the end of decade.

“This is clearly good news for energy consumers and energy intensive industries as it will mean electricity prices will be lower than would have otherwise been the case until the end of the decade. It also improves the UK competitiveness compared to the rest of Europe, as the carbon floor tax simply increased the cost of carbon emissions in the UK over and above the EU carbon tax.

“The electricity generation sector will be one of the sectors most directly affected by the change in policy. Higher carbon producing generators will see their costs reduce. Counter to this, renewable generators will be negatively impacted by this announcement.

“As one of the largest coal plants in Europe, Drax, will be one of the biggest beneficiaries and with all other factors being equal we believe it could improve EBIT between 3%-5% in 2016/17. Drax’s share price has reacted positively to the news and is up 0.82% today to 794.5 (at the time of writing).”

David Taylor, business development manager at consultancy firm UFW:

“This afternoon’s Budget has been widely acknowledged as a decent ‘work in progress’ report with reference to a strengthening UK economy, falling unemployment and inflation rates, and growth for this year projected to be amongst the strongest of any Western economy. However, despite economic measures announced today for the individual, families and businesses, it is disappointing that the Government has not done more to address one of most significant issues facing the global economy: global warming.

“The second of three publications by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was reported in the press on Monday, is one of the most comprehensive investigations into the impact of climate change ever undertaken – and it makes distressing reading.

“The report cites that a global mean temperature increase of 2.5°C above pre industrial levels could lead to global aggregate economic losses of between 0.2-2%: put simply a 2% reduction would wipe $1.4trn off the world’s economic output.

“The Chancellor did reference investment within the renewables sector in his Budget but much, much more needs to be heard – and seen: the incentives and legislation surrounding certain renewable energy is well regarded within the industry and beyond as both bureaucratic and prejudicial.”