Osborne puts business ahead of climate change

Chancellor George Osborne gave a clear indication he was putting the needs of business ahead of environmental policy when he addressed his party's conference.

Speaking yesterday (October 3) Mr Osborne told the Conservative party conference in Manchester that he couldn’t save the planet by ‘putting our country out of business’.

Less than a month after his cabinet colleague, energy minister Chris Huhne, promised to take Britain from ‘fossil fuel smoke stack to low carbon payback’, the chancellor said green policy was adding to business and household bills.

He said: “A decade of environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies.

“Yes, climate change is a manmade disaster. Yes, we need international agreement to stop it.

“Yes, we must have investment in greener energy. And that’s why I gave the go ahead to the world’s first Green Investment Bank.

“But Britain makes up less than 2% of the world’s carbon emissions to China and America’s 40%.

“We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.

“So let’s at the very least resolve that we’re going to cut our carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe.”

Greenpeace senior policy advisor Ruth Davis said: “In reality it’s in Britain’s interests to lead the world on climate change because the economies that win the race to develop clean renewable energy systems will be the ones that sell them to the rest of the world.

“The move to review the UK’s climate targets if Europe doesn’t cut its carbon fast enough is not new it was agreed and announced months ago.

“By presenting it as a break with the past just weeks before governments prepare to gather in South Africa to agree a new international climate deal, the chancellor has put red meat for party activists above global leadership.”

Green party leader and Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, said: “In his conference speech George Osborne drew a line in the sand on climate policy and signalled his intention to relegate the UK to a back seat in the global shift towards a greener economy – effectively pulling the rug out from under the government’s supposed green credentials.

“The pledge to cut the UK’s emissions ‘no slower but also no faster’ than our European neighbours was a transparent ploy to undermine the legally binding targets in the Climate Change Act and set the stage for downward negotiations at the EU level.

“And by highlighting his instrumental role in the internal dispute over the fourth recent carbon budget in May, the Chancellor further exposes the deep Cabinet divisions on efforts to position the UK as a leader in the low carbon economy.”

Luke Walsh

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