The Tories’ 2010 general election slogan was ‘It’s time for a change’ and this has certainly been borne out in their time in government so far.
- People in Britain are losing their jobs;
- Energy prices are rising;
- University tuition fees have trebled; and
- The recovery has stalled.
But these are just some of the most obvious and visible changes. The Tories have also been slowly changing their policy towards climate change, dismantling what the last Labour government worked so hard for. In his time as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband brought in the first legally binding climate change legislation, pledging 35% carbon cuts by 2022 and 50% by 2025. When the Tories came in, they promised to be the greenest government ever. A few months before the election, George Osborne proclaimed that
our commitment to the environment is as strong as ever … the Treasury will lead the development of the low carbon economy and finance a green recovery.
All this is changing. Climate Change has fallen off the agenda. Zero Carbon homes have been scrapped and research into bio-fuels has been cut off. And in George Osborne’s recent conference speech he told a delighted audience that
we’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business … carbon emission cuts will be no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe.
It is no coincidence that the green in the Conservatives oak tree logo has gone and has been replaced with the union jack. They think that abandoning policies on climate change will be better for the country. But economic recovery and care for our environment are not mutually exclusive as George Osborne has suggested.
Recovery can be founded on low-carbon growth with more green businesses, more innovation and more jobs.
Labour needs to put green issues back at the top of the agenda and make it clear to Osborne that we can protect our the planet and grow the economy at the same time!