Political parties fail leadership test

8th October 2013

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Management/saving



Individual government ministers and shadow ministers are working to promote the pro-environment agenda, but the same level of commitment is not reflected by the leadership of the three main political parties in Westminster, say NGOs

An assessment by a group of NGOs, including the Green Alliance and WWF, is warning that two decades of steady progress in UK environment policy is now threatened as a result.

The government and senior politicians are condemned for remaining largely silent about the UK’s environmental goals since the 2010 election. The prime minister’s promise that he would lead the greenest government ever has been devalued by the chancellor’s framing of high environment standards as a threat to economic success, concludes the assessment.

And, although the government’s support for a strong fourth carbon budget is welcome, it is undermined by its plans to review the targets in 2014, which the assessment says has created uncertainty about the direction of low-carbon policy.

Ministers have not always shown a high regard for scientific evidence, say the NGOs, describing environment secretary Owen Paterson’s questioning of the science of climate change as a “low point”.

Electricity market reform is being poorly handled by Decc, which is headed by Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, says the assessment. Decc is described as overseeing an energy policy framework that risks a high carbon lock-in incompatible with the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets.

Although the Labour opposition is congratulated for its commitment to a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, it is criticised for failing to signal that the environment will be among its priorities going into the next election.

Publication of the natural environment white paper is applauded, with former Defra secretary Caroline Spelman praised for bringing forward the document. The minister for climate change, Greg Barker also received a largely positive appraisal, singled out for advocating energy efficiency and decentralised energy.

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