“Greenest Government ever” – how do you rate the Coalition’s green performance?
The “greenest Government ever” – Prime Minister’s David Cameron’s much quoted – and questioned – claim made within a few days of his Coalition Government coming into power.
Tomorrow (January 12), the House of Lords will debate that claim. According to Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) who tabled and will open the discussion, the debate will act as a “benchmarking exercise” to see how well the Government is delivering on the “Green Deal, Green Investment Bank and green policy generally”.
How do business leaders rate the Government’s green performance?
Just a few weeks ago GreenWise conducted its own poll of industry views on the Government’s green performance. We asked around two dozen business leaders, NGOs and commentators: “How well has the Coalition delivered on its green agenda in 2011?”.
Against Cameron’s claim his would be the “greenest Government ever”, the responses didn’t exactly make for positive reading. While there was some support for Government action on such issues as the fourth carbon budget, the Green Investment Bank and the Renewable Obligation Certificate banding review, our participants were on the whole disappointed with the Government’s performance, with terms such as “gloomy”, “back-sliding” and “lack of leadership” used to describe the Government’s record on green policy in 2011. The most scorn, though, was reserved for Government’s handling of the Feed-in Tariff for solar electricity, and George Osborne’s anti-green rhetoric.
But are we being too hard on the Government?
According to Tory MP and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith, we are. Last week , he suggested Government Ministers weren’t being “championed” enough by the green movement when they got things right. His comments followed an outburst by Climate Minister Greg Barker who described sections of the green movement as the “environmental Taliban”. (It is not clear exactly who these “environmental Taliban” are, but a DECC spokesperson later told GreenWise Barker was speaking about those “green extremists” who see “green policy in a bubble” – in particular, those that have been critical of the Government’s £250 million relief package for energy intensive industries).
It’s probably fair to say that Barker’s and other Ministers’ progress in some green policy areas have been overshadowed by their lack of progress in others, but do they deserve the criticism? Certainly. Apart from anything else, I can think of few bigger policy gaffs than DECC’s handling of the FiT cuts.
Baroness Smith says she wants the Government tomorrow to respond in “a candid and open way” about its green performance so far. Holding up its hands over the FiT fiasco would be a good starting point.
Why don’t you join in the debate: give us your view on how green is the Government?