9 May 2012

Queens speech: 'deafening silence' over climate crisis

Ruscombe valley
Here's Caroline Lucas' comment on todays speech:

- Green MP slams absence of leadership to address climate change and manage transition to a green economy
- Welcomes Water White Paper but calls for more powers to hold water companies to account

The Government has squandered a vital opportunity to put action to tackle climate change and the growing environmental crisis at the top of its legislative agenda, said the UK's single Green MP today.

Responding to the Queen's Speech to Parliament this morning, Caroline Lucas MP said:

"Listening to the Queen's Speech today, you'd be forgiven for assuming that the climate crisis has simply gone away. In the face of mounting scientific concern about the urgency of the threat we face from climate change, the deafening silence from this Government is unforgiveable. Not only is this a tragedy for the environment, it's also a tragic missed opportunity for our stagnating economy - and the hundreds of thousands of jobs in new green industries which would be created if Ministers got their priorities right. Instead of strong leadership on the green economy, all that seems to be on offer today is a Green Investment Bank that still can't borrow, and a deeply flawed Electricity Market Reform Bill which, without radical amendment, risks locking us into a high carbon, high cost, and gas dependent future."

Responding to the announcement of plans to reform the water industry in England and Wales, the Green MP said:

"As we face the worst drought in a quarter of a century, the Government's long overdue proposals to reform the water industry are certainly welcome - but are full of holes. Consumers are being warned that they must do all they can to save water, yet Ministers are failing to extend the same level of obligation to the water companies over their scandalous leakages. That the entire water industry is predicted to reduce leaks by only a paltry 1.5% in the years up to 2015 raises serious questions about the efficacy of the regulator Ofwat - and about the commitment of this Government to really hold water company bosses to account.

"Ofwat's powers must now be strengthened to ensure that water companies are using their billion-pound profits to make substantial improvements to the pipelines and reduce the huge water waste that is leaving us in short supply. And as the impacts of climate change hit home and volatile weather patterns increase, the Government must urgently put in place a strategy to ensure a consistent water supply for the years ahead - or else water shortages will become a dangerous new norm."

"Secret justice"

Lucas also warned over proposals relating to the Justice and Security Bill set out in the speech.

"The Government's plan for 'secret justice' is presented as being vital for national security when in fact their real concern is preventing national embarrassment", she said. The result of these appalling proposals and the ongoing commitment to use secret evidence, as in the special immigration appeals commission, will be that serious Government wrongdoing is less likely to come to light.

"We must not allow the use of secret evidence to contaminate our civil proceedings - it is a key principle of our justice system to be able to hear and challenge the case, or the evidence brought against you."

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