Greenest ever? Don't get clever

All governments, I believe, start out with the best intentions. But then somewhere down the line, brutal reality kicks in. And today (October 5) was that defining moment, as David Cameron drew the Tory conference to a close with his speech.

A speech in which he effectively dumped his "greenest ever" pledge and decided to replace it with "most family friendly government ever" instead. Good thinking, PM. No-one was buying your eco-credentials, but you might be able to sell a few more votes by switching to more traditional turf. Same old tories?

Cameron could have used his podium opportunity to enrol in some damage limitation caused by his own cabinet – mainly Eric Pickles and Phillip Hammond – who the week before put the coalition's green agenda back in the dark ages with their respective announcements on weekly bin collections and higher speed limits.

But before he got the chance, his right-hand man George Osborne waded in two days before and snuffed out any prospect of that. He vowed the UK would only do the bare minimum to cut carbon emissions. "We're not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business," he barked.

Right. That makes sense, doesn't it? An economy that is fundamentally built upon diminishing resources and raw materials is about as futureproof as you can get. But can we blame the chancellor? After all he is only doing his job – like so many before him – mainly, not thinking beyond his term of office.

And that, really, is the depressing truth. The planet isn't built to last, and neither are governments. But those elected are in a position of power and influence to effect real change, or at least put the wheels in motion, while they have the opportunity to do so.

In this case, another soundbyte bites the dust. But did it have to be so hammered into submission by three potentially very damaging policy measures that could swiftly undo all the environmental sector's good work in recent years?

Back in 2006, after his fact-finding mission to view melting glaciers up close in Norway, Cameron gushed: "Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the world and we must have a much greater sense of urgency about tackling it. We can only play a leading role tackling climate change if we become a low-carbon economy."

A week is a long time in politics, as Harold Wilson famously said. Never mind five years.

maxine perella

Topics: edie
Tags: | David Cameron | eric pickles | low carbon
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