23 Apr 2010

Tories addicted to oil

The Tories 'green credentials' have always been in doubt - see here - and here they omitted to mention the environment in their election priorities - but at least we had some hopes - but I have just been reading some of their energy policy and it is quite clear they are looking for ways to stay dependent on fossil fuels.

Pic: by Russ

This is business as usual and takes no account of climate change or peak oil.

Just to be clear the Tories are committed to extend exploration and exploitation of offshore oil reserves in their recently published Energy Policy Paper, ‘Rebuilding Security: Conservative Energy Policy for an Uncertain World': "For as long as the UK is a major consumer of oil (and gas) we must ensure we exploit our own natural resources to the fullest extent......We need policies for hunting [oil] not farming…..We need polices that offer the right incentives to explore for and extract the remaining reserves of oil and gas, and to keep existing fields open as long as possible."

Worse still they plan to change the tax system to encourage exploration, change the licensing system to make it easier and make access to infrastructure easier to help open markets to smaller fields. Furthermore they look set to override all concerns about wildlife in areas like the Shetlands - already marine mammal specialists think the Government is failing to implement the spirit, if not the letter, of European wildlife law in the area. It is hard to see how they could 'streamline and simplify' licensing arrangements in such an area, without weakening environmental protection still further.

This truly is a madness. In contrast Greens would like to develop an economy that can do without fossil fuels. That means the Green New Deal - not the nonsense that Cameron is talking about - but the Green Party’s £44bn investment package to meet the emissions targets, give people warmer homes, massively improve public transport, restore a big chunk of British industry and create a million UK jobs.

Let's not forget that to meet the targets demanded by science we need 90% reductions in UK emissions by 2030. No other party has policies to meet what the science tells us we need. We need 10% reductions next year, and probably 50% reductions by 2020. As Caroline Lucas has said this means: "We need to put the UK economy on a war footing to make the changes necessary, but in turn that means creating a million jobs and helping the economy recover."

The alternatives are a £3bn Lib Dem package which is basically tokenistic, a Labour plan that has put more money into the car industry than into low-carbon initiatives, and a Conservative Party that as we've seen from their energy strategy wants us to keep burning fossil fuels as long as possible.

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