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Government won’t be the greenest ever by turning off its lights says WDM 14.05.10

David Cameron has announced today that his government will be the ’greenest government’ ever. We welcome the sentiment but we are sceptical and said that ‘history will judge this government on its green credentials by its policies to cut the UK’s emissions dramatically and getting a fair international climate deal, not by turning off its lights at night.’ :Source World Development Movement

Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement said: "The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has brought some progress for achieving climate justice. Whilst it’s welcome that central government has pledged to cut its emissions by 10 per cent, history will judge this government on its green credentials by its policies to cut the UK’s emissions dramatically and getting a fair international climate deal, not by turning off its lights at night. It doesn’t take the scale of the problem seriously, any suggestion that blue and yellow means green government are premature because there are so many unanswered questions about the policies.

"The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has brought some campaign successes for climate justice. But it has also left a lot of unanswered questions, and media reports suggesting that blue and yellow = green government seem potentially premature."

The World Development Movement believes that a closer reading and deeper probing into the policies is vital before an informed conclusion can be made. Here’s our analysis:

The good news - planes
WDM has been calling for a tax on planes rather than passengers, and cancellation of any new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted and both have been delivered. This is an excellent achievement for campaigners from WDM and elsewhere. But, what about airport expansion outside London?

The news that sounds good but too soon to tell - coal
The coalition government say they will bring in an emissions performance standard for new power stations. The could be a key policy for stopping new coal power stations from being built. But it depends on the detail. Before the election the Liberal Democrats were in favour of quite a good emissions performance standard, whilst the Conservatives proposal was weak. Which will the new government go with?

Worrying – so many questions, so few answers – global climate deal
There is nothing in the agreement about international climate change negotiations. This is worrying as the whole Conservative manifesto also ignored its approach to international agreements.

Will the UK provide compensation to developing countries for the climate damage we have caused? Will this be given as loans, as under Labour, or grants? The Liberal Democrats said climate money should go through the UN rather than the World Bank, whilst the Conservatives fully supported money going through the World Bank. Which will now happen? The Liberal Democrats said climate money should be additional to aid. The Conservatives did not. Which will now happen? These issues are vital to getting a just and effective international climate deal, and need to be at the top of Chris Huhne’s in tray.

Inconclusive – the Green Investment Bank + RBS + tar sands investment
Both parties favour the setting up of a Green Investment Bank to boost lending to renewables industry and to create green jobs in the UK. This is very welcome, but with the Royal Bank of Scotland draining the public purse and pouring the finance into high carbon projects – it is a case of throwing good money after bad. The Lib Dem policy is to end the use of public money channelled through RBS to support tar sands projects – this needs to be pushed forward and get agreement from the Conservatives.

Final Musings
The Liberal Democrats say they have gained lots of concessions on climate change from the Conservatives. But it is not yet that clear cut. We welcome the impact the Liberal Democrats have had on climate change policy, but Chris Huhne will need to go a lot further in government. To see how Conservatives and Liberal Democrats compared on climate changes before the election, see our ‘Vote for justice’ report.

Peter Shield

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1 Comment

  • Government won’t be the greenest ever by turning off its lights says WDM

    14 May 2010 17:10, by Peter Shield

    Friends of the Earth’s take on Cameron Green spin.

    Reacting to David Cameron’s pledge today to make the coalition the "greenest Government ever", Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

    "We welcome Mr Cameron’s pledge that the new Government will be the greenest ever - we urgently need to build a new low carbon economy out of the rubble of the old.

    "But the starting point must be a more ambitious target for tackling climate change.

    "The coalition Government must agree to cut UK emissions by at least 42 per cent by 2020 without offsetting - this is the minimum that scientific experts say is needed for this country to play its fair part in preventing dangerous climate change.

    "To deliver these cuts, we also need local carbon budgets to ensure that councils play their part in cutting emissions and a new law to cut greenhouse gases caused by the UK’s dependence on imported feeds for meat and dairy."

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