Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a series of green measures.
These included the threat of legislation to force retailers to charge for plastic bags if moves to establish a voluntary code of conduct cannot be agreed.
The Budget also contains moves to extend tax reliefs to encourage the remediation of derelict brownfield land and make all public buildings zero carbon by 2018.
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth , said Mr Darling had fallen a long way short of his pledge to put sustainability at the heart of this year’s Budget, saying: “He has merely tinkered in the margins.”
“The overall package falls a long way short of what is required. We urgently need real political leadership on this issue.”
Government 'avoiding major action'
Amelia Cookson, head of the Local Government Information Unit’s Centre for Service Transformation, said: “The government seems to be avoiding major action on climate change by focusing on plastic bags.
“Councils are not enthusiastic about charges, it should be about councils promoting on the ground action owned by local businesses and communities."
London Councils called on Mr Darling to back the bill it has recently introduced in Parliament with which aims to introduce a capital-wide ban on throwaway shopping bags.