Chris Huhne said at the Renewable UK conference last October:
“We're missing a trick unless we start supporting low-carbon manufacturing here in Britain – and … creating the exports that will keep Britain competitive.... This government has resolved that we will be the largest market in Europe for offshore wind.… We will not heed the … green economy deniers.”
Both ‘green’ policies to promote reduced carbon emissions and growth policies (including to help pay for emissions reduction) are important priorities. But as Policy Exchange has consistently argued, muddling-up these priorities under ‘green growth’ ‘or the ‘green economy’ is damaging to both the goals of emissions reduction and growth.
The approach to securing maximum emissions reduction for minimum economic impact is to develop an effective long-term, technology-neutral carbon pricing framework to guide markets, with further support focused on maximising low carbon innovation.
But a goal of promoting ‘green growth’ instead leads the Government to favour and subsidise selected ‘green’ – usually renewable energy – industrial sectors. The ‘green growth’ argument is not that such subsidies are the best way to reduce emissions, but that they will increase overall levels of growth, exports and employment in the UK.
Yesterday saw the formal launch of the Conservative Environment Network. It's an independent group within the party but supported by shadow cabinet ministers, Nick Herbert and Greg Clark, who both attended last night's launch party.
On its homepage it announces its mission:
"Our aim is to “fight the good fight” within the conservative movement by making the case that climate change and other environmental issues are critically important and need to be tackled by effective government policy, private enterprise and Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit."
A fuller statement of the CEN's aims can be found on this page.
Retiring Tory MP Peter Ainsworth explains the CEN's purpose on Platform 10. He takes on the climate change sceptics:
"Disputes about the science of manmade climate change may be rife, but they are entirely irrelevant. It might be suggested that only a brave or very foolish person (or a publicity-seeker) would take issue with the consensual opinion of the world’s leading scientists – but in the end this too is irrelevant. The point is this: waste of any kind is a bad thing, so we must stop wasting energy, food and material resources. Fossil fuels are finite, so we must find ways of being less dependent upon them, and sooner rather than later. Natural resources are limited, not limitless as we in the West have implicitly regarded them for two-hundred years, so we must start trying to obey the laws of Nature. If Nature goes bust, there will be no bail out."
The rest of his piece argues that capitalism and conservatism are the true friends of the planet. Mr Ainsworth concludes with these words:
"The true friends of the Earth are gradually emerging, and they are not those who spend their time screaming at the capitalist system. They are those who respect our duty of stewardship over the natural environment we have inherited, and embrace capitalism as the most powerful tool for change on the planet."
> Today on CentreRight: Conservatives and the environment – the next step in a long tradition
Author: Keith Boyfield
Publication Date: 7 October 2009
This report argues that too much regulation can have damaging consequences. The author acknowledges the calls for tighter regulation of the banking industry following the credit crunch but notes that regulation in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and health and safety have had dangerous unforeseen consequences.
Author: Tom Shakespeare
Publication date: 16 July 2009
The report details a series of environmental proposals for councils to adopt. These include investing in green transport, encouraging the development of eco business parks and enshrining eco-budgeting into the council's budgeting process.