Why Gove can’t be trusted on his ‘Green Brexit’ rhetoric today

Don't buy Gove’s ‘Green Brexit’ promises - his record speaks louder than his words.

Today Michael Gove is promising a ‘Green Brexit’. In a speech at the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Centre, the Environment Secretary will say he is an “environmentalist first because I care about the fate of fellow animals.”

He will – to his credit – argue that farming subsidies after Brexit must be earned through action on water and land quality by big farms. So far, so green.

It would be much nicer to hear if we his actions matched his words. 

Here’s five reasons why we should be wary of taking Gove’s green credentials at face value.

1. He has frequently voted against lowering greenhouse emissions

According to vote-monitoring service TheyWorkForYou, eco-warrior Gove has ‘generally voted against measures to prevent climate change’.

Just last year, the now Environment Secretary voted against reducing the permitted carbon dioxide emission rate of new homes.

In 2013, he voted against setting a target range for the amount of greenhouse gases produced per generated unit of electricity.

And in 2012, he voted against requiring the UK Green Investment Bank (a bank his government is now privatising) to explicitly act in support of the target of reducing UK carbon emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050.

In fact, much of the time he simply doesn’t show up to big environmental votes – including on the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Bill in 2008.

2. He voted to privatise England’s forests

Remember those bizarre and dangerous plans to flog off 635,000 acres of Forestry Commission woodland in 2011? Gove supported them. Thankfully those proposals were defeated – but not before the eco-champion Gove voted in favour.

3. He backs fracking on British land

Yes, that’s presumably the same land that he will now be telling farmers to look after. Will landowners take his calls seriously given that’s the case?

The i newspaper reports that “In 2015 [Gove] voted against requiring an environmental permit for hydraulic fracking activities. He also voted against a review of the impact of fracking on climate change and the environment.” So thanks to him, we may not even know the scale of damage fracking will cause.

4. He tried to remove climate change from the school curriculum while Education Secretary

When Gove was appointed last month, this was the terrifyingly neo-con policy that led green campaigners to brand him the ‘fox in charge of the henhouse’.

5. As a Brexiteer, Gove wanted fewer green regulations

Ed Davey, the Environment Secretary in 2013 when Gove was Education Secretary, said Gove believed key EU rules protecting wildlife and air pollution should be scrapped.

No wonder Green co-leader and MP Caroline Lucas said it was hard to “think of many politicians as ill-equipped for the role of Environment Secretary as Michael Gove”.

In total, between 2008 and 2016, the ‘Green Brexiteer’ voted for measures to prevent climate change five times, against 12 times, and was absent 11 times, according to Irish News analysis. .

While the Environment Secretary’s speech today is encouraging, the proof will be in the final policy.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter here.

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