Caroline Lucas writes for edie
Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion and leader of the Green party of England and Wales writes exclusively for edie about the future of UK energy supplies and her first year in Parliament.
As the only Green in Parliament, I have been profoundly disappointed at the Government’s shocking lack of commitment on green policy this year.
The prime minister has yet to give a single speech on cutting emissions, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, or making our economy more sustainable – and climate change has all but disappeared from the political and media landscape.
Whether it’s scrapping the Sustainable Development Commission, threatening our natural heritage with planning ‘reforms’, offering feeble proposals on energy efficiency, failing to properly capitalise the Green Investment Bank or scaling back ambition on renewables and climate targets – these are not the actions of a Government overly concerned about its green credentials.
Time and again, the Coalition has demonstrated a strong bias towards big business – in particular with its hugely unpopular national planning proposals, which threaten to tear up protection laws for our countryside in favour of developers.
Corporate interests were also prioritised in the aftermath of Fukushima, when Coalition officials and industry colluded on a pro-nuclear public information campaign – showing that not even a large scale nuclear incident can halt the Government’s ideological obsession with new nuclear.
There has been a real failure to interrogate the environmental and economic viability of nuclear, and the huge risks involved, both in further expansion and in dealing with the UK’s enormous decommissioning legacy.
Meanwhile, the internal dispute over the Government’s Fourth Carbon Budget in May exposed deep Cabinet divisions over our climate change commitments.
As the Environmental Audit Committee, of which I am a member, stated at the time, a concessionary review clause in the Budget leaves the door wide open for Ministers to backtrack on targets in just three years’ time – posing a significant threat to long term certainty on emissions reductions and to investor confidence in green technologies.
More recently, Chancellor George Osborne made clear his anti-green stance in a speech to Conservative party conference, in which he sought to undermine the Climate Change Act and relegate the UK to a back seat in the shift towards a greener economy.
Now he is dragging his feet on efforts to channel much-needed investment into renewables and is even reported to be preparing tax breaks for the most polluting companies.
Given the Coalition’s apparent unwillingness to show low carbon leadership on the international stage, it’s difficult not to feel pessimistic about our role in the upcoming climate talks in Durban.
David Cameron must now pull his head out of the sand and prevent the Chancellor and other anti-green forces within the Coalition from completely derailing our energy and climate change ambitions.
Policies to address the climate crisis can help create hundreds of thousands of jobs in clean industries and help to lift us out of economic stagnation. But to realise these benefits, the Government must stop undermining the UK’s credibility and show other nations and the business community that it is willing to prioritise the jobs-rich green industries of the future.
In 2010 edie readers named her the Green Personality of the Year in the Award for Environmental Excellence.
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