Greg Barker: 'Greenest Government ever' is delivering on its promise
The Energy Minister has hit back at claims that the coalition Government has failed to deliver on its promise to be 'the greenest ever', insisting that David Cameron's administration is actually 'delivering like no other' on climate change.
Giving his keynote speech at the Eco Technology Show in Brighton earlier today (26 June), Greg Barker hailed the 'extraordinary progress' that the Government has made over the past four years, singling out the Green Investment Bank and the Feed-In Tariff scheme as two significant success stories. (Scroll down for audio).
"Opposition is about talking a good game, Government is about making a real change," the Conservative MP told delegates at the Show. "The important thing in Government is not to try and do everything but actually to focus on a few really important things and make sure you deliver - that's what we've done.
"The Climate Change Act gave us a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by a hefty 80% by 2050. We're now well into that process and we are absolutely on track to meet our 2050 target. Emissions are now 25% below the 1990 levels, despite the fact that here in the UK we have the strongest economic growth of any major economy in the world.
"Look at solar - when I became the minister responsible for solar, there were just a handful of solar installations. It's now well over 3GW. Last weekend, over 8% of our electricity came from solar.
"We've tried to make green mainstream - it's not something for special interest. That's why we're rolling out the Green Deal, the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-In Tariffs.
"But the single thing I'm most proud of is the creation of the Green Investment Bank. It now has assets of £3.9bn and it's opening up really large industrial markets for the UK, like the world's largest offshore wind programme.
"So, on the big things we actually have a fantastic record of achievement. You might not see it at the top of the news every night, but this Government is delivering like no other."
Audio: Greg Barker's keynote speech at the Eco Technology Show
Barker's comments coincide with an opposing viewpoint expressed this morning by the outgoing head of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, who asserted that the coalition has, in reality, failed to live up to its green promises.
Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is really disappointing that this Government hasn't done as much as it promised it was going to do in relation to the environment.
"I fear that most politicians and most governments at the moment see the environment as something that is a bit generalised, it's a bit amorphous, it's not something that really hits the reality of people's lives, so they don't pay it very much attention."
Friends of the Earth's head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton added: "Lord Smith is quite right - politicians need to be honest with people because they've known for years that climate change will have a devastating impact on the UK, with worse flooding and damage to coastlines and crops.
"The policy trade-off between the two coalition parties and UKIP's dangerous dog-whistling has dragged this Government off course in tackling climate change.
"To have an Environment Secretary who disputes man-made climate change is simply ludicrous. As a first step, David Cameron must give Owen Paterson the boot as soon as possible."