In parliament: Taking stock of the 'greenest' government

1st May 2014


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  • Central government ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Adaptation

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IEMA

Green MP Caroline Lucas says that the UK's self-proclaimed "greenest government ever" is failing to address threats to nature or deal with climate change

Put simply, the coalition government is failing the nation on climate change and on nature. Even the prime minister appears to have given up on claiming that the current government will be the greenest ever.

Let’s take a look at where it has gone wrong. David Cameron’s choice of cabinet ministers speaks volumes, not least the appointment of Owen Paterson as environment secretary. The MP, who has claimed that climate change is positive and possibly unrelated to human activity, should never have been given responsibility for ensuring our country is prepared for flooding and other climate impacts.

Meanwhile, the government’s love affair with “fracking” stands in stark contrast with some ministers’ open hostility to wind power. The chancellor described his shale gas tax breaks as “the most generous in the world”. In truth, they are a dangerous distraction from the shift to renewable energy we need. The government’s determination to extract every last drop of oil and gas, while claiming to have a credible plan to tackle climate change, is astounding. Then we had the rollback of green levies on energy bills. As a result, fewer households in fuel poverty will benefit from energy efficiency and permanently reduced energy costs.

Actions, not words, matter the most when it comes to the natural environment and wildlife too. Nevertheless, it’s revealing that the white paper on England’s natural environment mentions “growth” 61 times and “conservation” just 39. Nor is the government acting to protect crucial life support systems like clean water, clean air and productive soils. Sixty per cent of UK wildlife species are in decline and one in 10 at threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

For all our sakes, I hope that ministers will ditch their obsession with short-term growth at any cost and instead heed their own green rhetoric.

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