Monday, 16 June 2008

Vote Blue, Go Green, Save Money


"Today, I want to tackle an argument that seems to be as cyclical as the economy. The argument that when times are good, we can indulge ourselves with a bit of environmentalism - but when the economic going gets tough, the green agenda has to be dropped.

"According to this argument, protecting the environment is a luxury rather than a necessity - and it's a luxury we just can't afford in an economic downturn. I want this generation to be the one that bucks that trend: to be the generation that finds a way to combine economic, social and environmental progress.

"We will only do that if we develop a strategy for realistic environmentalism - not ignoring economic realities and just pressing on regardless but understanding economic realities and using them as a spur to innovation and imagination.

"I understand that right now the cost of living is the number one concern for Britain's families. And I understand, with that backdrop, why people might think fighting climate change seems a costly diversion. But those who say we've got to choose either the environment or the economy, who say, "look, we can't tackle climate change. Going green will cost too much when the cost of living is already too high. Tough emissions targets will damage our industry and business…" they've got it exactly wrong.[1]

"The truth is: it's not that we can't afford to go green - it's that we can't afford not to go green. When oil is moving towards $140 a barrel, when families are being hit hard every time they pay their gas bill, fill up their cars or do the weekly shop, are you telling me we shouldn't - we can't - go green? We've got to.

"The era of cheap oil is well and truly over. So whether we need to cut our carbon or not - which we do. Whether you believe in climate change or not - which you should. For the sake of our future prosperity and our current cost of living, we must wean ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels and go green.

"Today I want to make my position on this absolutely clear. We are not going to drop the environmental agenda in an economic downturn. But neither will we ignore the rising cost of living and the fact that people are hurting. So we will take forward our green agenda in a way that strengthens the economy - not 'green' or 'growth', but both. And we will take forward our green agenda in a way that strengthens family finances - as we said in the local elections last month: Vote Blue, Go Green, Save Money.

"We won't achieve this with half-measures or a half-hearted attitude. We'll only get the big benefits of going green if we're really ambitious and really change the way we do things. What I'm talking about is one of the most radical technological and social shifts for generations. I'm talking about reconfiguring our whole economy and overturning our whole hydrocarbon dependency.

"I'm talking about completely changing the way we heat our homes, travel to work and produce our food. I'm talking about bringing into everyday use technologies that are still in laboratories and developing in the laboratory technologies that haven't even been thought of yet. Of course this won't happen overnight. But it won't happen at all without public and political will. That is the great challenge for our generation.

"And I believe it is a challenge that the Conservative Party is now ready to meet because we understand both the environmental imperative - the need for a green revolution and the economic imperative - the need to achieve this revolution in a way that strengthens our economy and strengthens family finances.

"There are five key features of our approach and I want to set them out today. They are, if you like, our Blue/Green Charter. First, we believe in harnessing the power of markets and creating commercial frameworks that give businesses the confidence to invest in innovation. Second, we believe in green taxes, but only if they change behaviour, and only if they are replacement taxes, not new taxes. Third, is the action we take must secure our energy supply. Fourth, it must prioritise energy efficiency. And fifth, we must renew our national transport infrastructure.



dan burgess said...

he's clearly got some smart people around him, and his 'key features' seem to be spot on in terms of throwing resource, energy and focus, from what i understand anyway.
Delighted to hear a political leader telling it as it is for once. Fingers crossed for some momentum.

Paul F said...

Fingers, toes, legs and everything else crossed.

He clearly has some good advisor's with him, who seem to have their information on the mood within the "Green" community spot on.

Of course, it remains to be seen if once in power, if anything at all will change. No I do believe it will change, the question should have been, will it change quickly enough and radically enough?

weggis said...

18 June 2008

Dear Sir,

Paul Kingsnorth imagines that many readers will be writing letters to the editor with a long list of why the Tories "would be a horrible disaster for Britain" (My instinct is to pan him. But maybe he really is green, 18 June 2008). Actually, I can go one better than that, and demonstrate that they are already a disaster in Europe.

There were a number of key votes on the environment which took place just this week in the European Parliament - and the voting patterns of the Conservatives are instructive.

For example, while David Cameron waxed lyrical in his "green speech" about the importance of emissions performance standards for new power stations, his MEPs in Strasbourg have just refused to support a Green amendment which would have introduced precisely this measure in the EU. For the record, Labour MEPs also opposed it.

Earlier in the week, on the Waste Directive, Tory MEPs not only supported the "reclassification" of incineration as energy recovery, they also abandoned waste stabilisation and reduction targets. Furthermore, on the Water Framework Directive, they voted against measures to strengthen the protection against hazardous chemicals in water.

My list could continue, but my point is this. If Kingsnorth is unable to differentiate between Tories and Labour on the environment, that doesn't mean that the Tories are turning Green: it means that both Tories and Labour are equally grey. As ever, if you want Green policies, the most effective way to get them is to vote for Green Party politicians.

Yours sincerely

Dr Caroline Lucas MEP
Green Party

Paul F said...

"As ever, if you want Green policies, the most effective way to get them is to vote for Green Party politicians"

Just like your colleagues in Ireland stood by their promises when they formed a coalition and buckled under pressure on a number of key issues they were campaigning on, the Hill of Tara being a fine example (

The Corrib Gas Field being another....

My list could continue.........

I hope for the sake of the UK the Greens there are not made so dizzy by the prospect of power.

John Grant said...

the green new deal stuff from caroline lucas' team is well worth checking out though - it's one of the most interesting proposals for some time