Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Yellow and Blue Make Green?

In May 2010, shortly after the coalition had been formed, David Cameron said that he wanted it to be "the greenest government ever" and Chris Hume (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) said "Climate change is in my view, our view, the greatest challenge facing mankind."
When I heard that I was really hopeful. I don't know a lot about  politics (and knew even less 18 months ago) but those statements sounded like the new government were going to really take environmental issues seriously.  A year later, with the struggles of deficit, recession and social unrest the environment had already slipped into the background.
During Mr Cameron's speech at his party conference this year he must have forgotten the page on the environment as the only references to it were a passing comment on "green engineering" and berating Labour for not "going green". 
Then George Osborne made a bold environmental pledge. He said 
"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."
Brilliant, thanks George, that really is the very least you can do. His arguments included the fact that the U.K. contributes 2%, compared to China and the USA's 40% of emissions globally and that carbon investment businesses will go overseas. Now I've done a quick calculation and it looks like the U.K. population is less than 1/20 of the combined populations of China and the U.S.A so by Mr Osborne's figures we should be reducing our emissions more if they are to match population sizes. Another quick calculation shows that the U.K. actually makes up less than 1% of the world population so we should definitely be trying to half our emissions.
So far it's not looking great for the greenest government ever. Then, this morning, I turned on the radio to hear that the Prime Minister, who is passionate about the environment and is trying to make his government the greenest ever, may not be going to the globally important Rio+20 summit next year because it clashes with the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. I checked the dates and I'm sure Mr Cameron could at least make the 6th June, after a 4 day weekend!
Today the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs will make a direct call for David Cameron to confirm his attendance at next year's summit in Brazil. They hope that this will reinforce the UK's commitment to the low carbon economy and also may boost the conferences profile. According to The Guardian,
sources confirmed the Prime Minister will not attend the summit. The UK's delegation will instead be led by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman with the rest of the ministerial delegation being announced nearer the time.
With proposals to raise the speed limit to 80 mph (which will raise emmisions), Mr Osborne's firm stance for economic growth over all else and a refusal to lead the way in Europe, today's news isn't really shocking, just disappointing. It seems that maybe yellow and blue don't really make green at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment