Why our political leaders should be ashamed of steering clear of the green agenda
This week, Energy Minister Greg Barker insisted the Conservatives were not giving up on their green pledges, but short of mentioning the Green Investment Bank in passing, Tory leader David Cameron didn’t mention one of his party’s green pledges in his conference speech on Wednesday.
Last week, Ed Miliband did the same. The omission by the former Labour Energy and Climate Change Secretary was so unexpected that some suggested he may have forgotten to bring the subject up in his speech because he’d delivered it without the use of notes.
So why are our political leaders steering clear of the green agenda?
And this week, more than 50 concerned businesses called on the Government to commit to a decarbonisation target for Britain’s energy sector by 2030, while seven global electricity and nuclear technology companies, which employ over 17,000 workers in the UK, wrote a letter to the Energy Secretary threatening to pull hundreds of millions of pounds of planned investment because of the threat to relax carbon targets and lack of decision-making by the Government on green investment.
You could hardly say climate change or our dwindling resources aren’t as pressing issues as pensions, the welfare state, education or even, for that matter, the deficit.
The latter all figured high in Cameron’s hour-long speech, which some commentators have described as a “political lecture” instead of the usual conference speech.
So why no ‘lecture’ on the need to tackle climate change? Or the need to decarbonise our economy? Or get the ‘Conservatives’ – the party of home ownership – to address their energy inefficient homes?
Are these issues really less important than the public deficit?
No. Yet in his speech to the Labour Party Conference, Miliband spoke of “one nation” but he failed to inspire us about how we could achieve a sustainable one.
Cameron spoke of how to get the UK economy “on the rise”, but he failed to mention that the green economy – which grew at five per cent last year – offered our best hope of doing so.
That green growth is now under threat; latest figures show global cleantech investment fell to its lowest in three years in the last quarter, brought on in part by political uncertainty and the US investing in shale gas, a cheap fossil fuel.
Yet only the Liberal Democrats saw fit to raise green issues to the top of the political agenda at their party conference.
Both Cameron and Miliband spoke of the tough decisions that have to be taken for Britain and the rest of the world, yet both have failed to address the very toughest of them all. Shame on them.