Cameron goes for green vote
David Cameron has said he is prepared to make tough decisions to ensure the environment gets the protection it needs and has set up a policy group to look at the issues.The new Tory leader shares Blair's professed concerns about reducing carbon emissions, saying it is one of the biggest and most pressing challenges currently facing the global community.
His move to bolster his green credentials will be seen by many as an attempt to topple Tony from his perceived position as the leader who cares about climate change.
The new policy group will be headed up by former Environment Secretary John Gummer, who will be supported by Zac Goldsmith, 30, multimillionaire editor of the Ecologist and recent addition to the Conservatives' list of approved candidates.
Peter Ainsworth, chairman of the environmental audit select committee, has also been appointed to the group.
The group will be tasked with looking at ways to improve the quality of life in the UK without restricting economic growth as well as investigating ways of tackling wider environmental problems.
Cameron has also said he would like to see an independent carbon audit to track how well the UK was doing in achieving its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.
He argued that it was not necessary to adopt an ascetic lifestyle to live sustainably, and pointed to 'easy win' solutions that would not impact on quality of life such as increasing the amount of biodiesel used by the UK's vehicles.
Cameron has said he plans to establish a total of six policy groups to hammer out the official Conservative stance and help set out future party policy in 18 months time.
So far former leader Iain Duncan Smith has been given social justice, while leadership contender Kenneth Clarke will chair the party's democracy taskforce.
The Conservative leader has indicated he wants to work with the other parties to speed up efforts to address environmental degradation, an idea the Liberal Democrats are claiming as their own.
The Liberal Democrat's spokesman on the environment, Norman Baker MP said: "Climate change is undoubtedly the most serious issue we face.
"The Liberal Democrats have initiated a process where parties can work together to tackle this issue."
By Sam Bond