The Least Green Government Ever?

At a time when the effects of climate change are beginning to hit home around the globe, and even the US Government is beginning to acknowledge its seriousness, it is unfortunate to say the least that the British public has elected such a climate sceptic Parliament. This is what the corporate owned popular media intended when they focused public attention on the economic crisis which, they lead people to believe, was caused by the Labour Government’s wasteful social and welfare policies and not on the irresponsible behaviour of the financial institutions. Corporate finance and big business is not interested in climate change, it does not see enough profit in it, it thinks that it can weather the storm and come out of the crisis in total control of the planet, its governments, and its remaining assets.

David Cameron has tried to mask the climate scepticism of his party by labeling his government ‘the greenest ever.’ Empty words we might suspect. The early actions of this ‘greenest government’ show the influence of scepticism and denial.  On taking office, it abolished the Sustainable Development Commission, even though this body was able to save government more than it cost. The Environment Agency is at risk, the Environmental Transformation Fund, which supports the development of low carbon technologies, has had its budget cut by 22% to £120 million. The Low Carbon Building Programme, which provided grants for renewable energy instalations, has been scrapped. A pledge to incorporate pioneer installers of solar power into the new Feed In Tarrifs [FIT’s] has been dumped. Energy Minister Charles Hendry has even hinted that the FIT payments will be slashed.

Not looking so green, but here’s todays victory for the deniers. The idea of scrapping the Department of Energy and Climate Change [Decc] is now being floated as a ‘cost saving’ measure. Decc provides the strategic overview of the UK’s commitments to both Climate Change and to renewable energy policy, ensuring that our international obligations are met. Already Decc has had its modest budget of £3.2 billion cut by £85 million. The irony is that half of its funding, £1.7 billion, goes to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, a subsidy to the nuclear industry of which Chris Hune, LD Minister incharge, must be unaware, since he proclaims that a new generation of nuclear power stations can be built without subsidy.

So, the fledgling dedicated Department charged with preparing and implementing our countries response to the biggest crisis the world has faced since the ice sheets started advancing, must get by on £1.5 billion per year; and its very existence together with the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust, is under threat.

In response to this threat, Caroline Lucas said, “nobody who undestands the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis could even contemplate decimating the department that leads the effort to deal with it.”  John Sauven, head of Greenpeace described the proposal as “sheer insanity.”

Just to put this £1.5 billion budget for implementing energy and climate policy into context, total Government spending for 2010 will be £661 billion. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is planning to write off £1.5 billion of tax revenue owed over the last 2 years. Reward the tax evaders, penalise the planet.

Gives some idea of the priorities of this ‘greenest government ever.’

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