Following on from Hammond’s environmentally destructive attempt at populism on Friday, the Conservatives have this weekend struck two more blows against their own claim to be the greenest government ever.
Firstly, Friends of the Earth released a report which concluded that:
After one year in office the Coalition had made little progress towards David Cameron’s pledge to lead the greenest Government ever.
Their Policy and Campaigns Director, Craig Bennett, wrote:
“Funding cuts for community green energy projects, a planning free-for-all in our countryside and encouraging councils to abandon succesful recycling initiatives are just three examples in a long list of policy failures.
“Our fossil fuel dependency is having a devastating impact on our economy and household fuel bills – Ministers must fast track us towards a clean, safe energy future.”
Then, today, George Osborne made statements in his keynote speech which raise serious doubts as to the government’s commitment to his goals:
Now we know that a decade of environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies. Yes, climate change is a man made disaster. Yes, we need international agreement to stop it. Yes, we must have investment in greener energy. And that’s why I gave the go ahead to the world’s first Green Investment Bank.
But Britain makes up less than 2% of the world’s carbon emissions to China and America’s 40%. We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business. So let’s at the very least resolve that we’re going to cut our carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe.
In a stroke, Osborne has announced that the UK is going to stop even trying to take the lead on forging a green economy, instead surrendering this crucial growth area to other nations, and he has also hinted that, rather than tightening the energy sector’s requirement to act in a sustainable way, he will loosen it. Beyond that, his attribution of blame is simply wrong, as Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins points out:
“The Chancellor clearly can’t do his sums – Government figures show the reason our power bills are soaring is the UK Government’s addiction to coal, gas and oil, not green regulation which safeguards our economy.
“Harnessing the UK’s clean power potential is the only way to boost our energy industry and keep costs down in the long run – it’s astonishing that Osborne seems to be in league with those falsely blaming moves to free us from our costly fossil fuel habit.”
Blaming environmentalism for the faults of our energy supply, ignoring the growth potential of the green economy, slashing transport efficiency for short term populism – if this is the government trying to be the greenest ever, I dread to think what they’ll be like if they stop.
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• Hammond hammers another nail in the coffin of the “greenest government ever” – Alex Hern, September 30th 2011
• “Greenest government ever” ordered to face High Court on air pollution – Shamik Das, September 16th 2011
• Huhne and Greening are not serving the environment, but undermining it – Dominic Maxwell, June 29th 2011
• Will Osborne sell out “greenest government ever” in Budget? – Dominic Browne, March 21st 2011