Green taxes needed to fight “hot war” say Tories

Stepping up the green rhetoric at their conference in Bournemouth this week, the Conservatives have been keen to show that they are the best bet for the environment while maintaining their traditional position as the business party.

David Cameron has been keen to show his green credentials while the rest of his party has been working hard to persuade voters that fighting what Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth called the ‘hot war’ would be possible without hurting business and Britain should lead the ‘green industrial revolution’.

Speaking at the annual conference, he said that green taxes would have to make up a bigger proportion of total taxation in the future, without clarifying whether that would mean an overall tax rise or not.

He also gave his backing to international carbon trading, calling for a new authoritative body to run it in parallel with the WTO.

Responsible regulation could also be used to steer industry towards delivering clean technologies, he said.

Mr Ainsworth told the conference that David Cameron’s Tories would also like to see legislation introduced which would make it a legal requirement for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions year on year, which also happens to be the core demand of the Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask campaign.

“We want the Government to introduce a Climate Change Bill in the next Queen’s Speech, to commit to binding annual cuts in carbon, and to report each year on progress,” he said.

“We need a new body, independent of politics, to monitor the changing science of climate change, assess the risks, and make recommendations about the action Government needs to take.

“Britain should be at the forefront of this green industrial revolution.”

Mr Ainsworth said he had asked the Party’s Quality of Life group to draw up plans for a new, market-based global trading system for carbon emissions as the successor to Kyoto after 2012.

“We need to lay the foundations of an authoritative, international body, one which commands the trust of developing, rapidly developing and developed countries in equal measure.”

The public, he added, had a role to play in its choice of cars, food and ways to save energy.

And showing that the new greener party was still concerned about the country’s bottom line, he said: “We accept that the economic cost of not tackling climate change will be infinitely greater than the cost of taking action now.”

Sam Bond

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