Cameron’s shaky record on green investment

Cameron's invoking of the Green Investment Bank in defence of his government's environmental record is ironic given the limitations placed on it by his government.

During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, David Cameron cited the Green Investment Bank (GIB) when defending the government’s environmental record.

This came on the back of a question by Ed Miliband about the PM’s views on man-made climate change.

In response to Miliband, Cameron stated once again that he believes climate change is one of the most serious threats we (humanity, Britain) face.

What the PM did not say, however, is that it was his government which restricted the borrowing powers of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) – something set up by the government to invest in sustainable projects.

Although £3 billion has been allocated to the GIB in this parliament, the government has refused to give it additional borrowing powers on the grounds that the government’s overall targets for debt reduction have not been met (in the 2012 Autumn Statement George Osborne admitted that he is not on track to meet his target for reducing net debt as a percentage of GDP by 2015-16).

In their impact assessment of the GIB, the government said that granting the institution borrowing powers before 2015-16 “could jeopardise the government’s ability to stay inside its fiscal plans”.

At PMQs on 12 December 2012, Cameron also refused to say whether the GIB would be given borrowing powers.

Cameron’s invoking of the GIB in defence of his government’s environmental record is therefore ironic given the limitations placed on it by his government.

The government’s commitment to increase the proportion of tax revenue that originates from green taxes (such as landfill tax and air passenger duty) was another a key environmental policy, outlined in the 2010 coalition agreement.

However, the government has also failed to implement this: figures published in June last year show that the proportion of total tax revenue accounted for by environmental taxes fell from 8.3 per cent in 2010 to 8.1 per cent in 2012.

There is also the poor record of the Green Deal, a plan to enable households to take out loans to make their homes energy efficient. The government had hoped that 10,000 households would sign up to this scheme, but according to the current statistics it has 1,721 participants, with only 746 who have actually had the necessary measures installed in their homes.

Cameron said yesterday that he believed “man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that this country and this world face”. And yet his government are not taking the necessary steps to deal with the threat.

To make matters worse, some members of his government and his party do not even believe the threat exists.

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