21 May 2011
Blue and yellow does not make green
Photo:posh shop in London - go for growth/consumption even if it damages the environment seems to be the mssage from government
I write taking issue with Neil Carmichael's claims to be the 'greenest ever government' (18.05.11). Hardly an ambitious task. Jonathon Porritt, former head of the Sustainable Development Commission, has just carried out a Friends of the Earth-funded review of 77 key policies (i). He found there has been little or no progress in 55 policies with "the birds singing" for just six. He concludes we are "all in all, as close to a nightmare as one can imagine" with the government's chance of being the "greenest ever" being "vanishingly remote".
The government has tried to sell off our forests, cut investment in flood defences by 27%, delayed on the waste review and Water White Paper, abolished the Sustainable Development Commission, scrapped a planned rise in aviation tax, opened up our coast to deep water oil-drilling, failed to create a green investment bank with immediate borrowing powers, authorised hugely damaging "hydraulic fracturing" to search for natural gas, watered down schemes promoting small-scale renewable electricity and failed to curb the Treasury's fixation with economic growth, whether it damages the environment or not.
The fourth carbon budget is to be welcomed for it's targets, but the government's own independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), describe it as the "absolute minimum" necessary. It is also seriously flawed on three crucial points; refusing to toughen up the existing targets for 2013-2023, adding a clause which will allow the Government to backtrack in 2014 and shunning the CCC's recommendation that the budget should be met through domestic action alone. Outsourcing our emission reduction responsibilities to other countries means weakening the drive to achieve more green technologies and industries in this country. Indeed the number of UK green jobs looks set to shrink not rise.
Sadly, in this case, blue and yellow does not make green.
Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward (Green Party)
(i) Report downloadable at: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/greenest_gvt_ever.pdf