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« David Cameron's parliamentary support reaches 100 | Main | David Davis focuses on education (again) »

Comments

Jack Stone

No we in the Conservative don`t want policies that impress the media or even the general public for that matter we want policies that please ourselves!
The majority of this party after three defeats seem to have come to there senses and have relised that to win we must put together a platform that appeals beyond our party but there still are too many who still would rather be politically pure then win the majority need to send these people a message by electing David Cameroon with a huge majority that they might not want to win but we do.
I am pleased that at long last the party is making an attempt to take back from the left who have monopolised enviromental policy for themselves a policy that should be central to any Conservative programme.

 Ted

Bux - reading through this blog I find startling agreement with you on the necessity for yet another quango - don't we have an Office of National Statistics for reporting performance?
I would have been more impressed to have more concrete proposals around biomass/biofuels, which can have an immediate effect in reducing use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy,ditto. It may well be that the case for human driven climate change is difficult to prove but the downside risk looks pretty disruptive.
Technology looks the best way of having some impact on carbon emissions, and still enabling us to live lives the way we wish to. Targets have a part to play in driving innovation - lower lead levels, Clean Air Act etc.
But we have to also understand the costs of adopting different energy sources - impact of biofuel plantations in driving destuction of forests, nuclear waste handling etc.
The NuLab policies in these areas are timid and disorganised - we could put forward a coherent policy using markets, targetted tax breaks and targets - not yet another tax funded quango.

Henry Cook

"Bux - reading through this blog I find startling agreement with you on the necessity for yet another quango - don't we have an Office of National Statistics for reporting performance?"

Its not about reporting performance - its about enforcing performance. That's why its not 'yet another quango'. This body will have power. As far as I'm aware, the Office for National Statistics does not have any power to influence the statistics it reports.

Derek

What DCs speech does not do is give any detail. It is a very generalised commitment to do something to reduce carbon emissions. We have no idea what it is going to cost the British economy, and who is going to pay. Its a kind of mood music, but is it enough to convince the greens that he is serious, without alarming the business community that it will add serious additional burdens to their red tape.

loyal_tory

Everyone agrees the environment should be a significant part of the party's election platform. The question is what sort of environmental policies should the party have? Should it be ideas that the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats might have come up with that impress the media? Or should it be conservative ideas based on creating market incentives, property rights and devolving power to local communities?

Isn't it a bit sad just to go along with the tiny bit of detail David Cameron has offered and just hope for the best? We need strategic thinking, not just wishful thinking.

Wat Tyler

So overall we think this is mainly about trying to show we're just as eco-aware as anyone else.

OK, fair enough. We all want to get re-elected, and if this helps, I guess another quango doesn't make too much difference in the general scheme of things.

But what caught my eye was the final para of DC's press release:

"I am starting with a carbon-neutral campaign for the leadership. With the help of the Carbon-Neutral Company, we are planting enough trees to counteract the additional carbon emissions generated by our campaign.”

I admit to virtually zero knowledge on such things, but it turns out this is known as "Celebrity Tree Planting". Every celeb eco-warrior from Dido to...er, well Coldplay, does it these days.

But real environmentalists describe it as "greenwash," "a phoney climate fix, and a dangerous illusion," and false "absolution of carbon sins." (eg see http://www.sundayherald.com/42829 )

One company- Future Forests- has come in for particular criticism for marketing such schemes. That company no longer exists, because it changed its name to...the Carbon Neutral Company.

I hope DC hasn't inadvertantly blundered into an enviro storm. Because that would just show everyone that we don't actually know much about this stuff at all.

In the circs, maybe the safest thing would be for DC to stop emitting carbon for the duration of the campaign.

Henry Cook

I think cutting carbon emissions by a certain amount every year for 30 years is a pretty good long-term strategy actually. I'd like to see someone else propose a strategy which will still be going in 30 years time.

 Ted

Do we we need a "powerful" new body to enforce performance? - I thought that's why we elected a government.?. I recognise there are areas where independent enforcement may be preferable but I'm not convinced that a ministry can't enforce (through the many existing enforcement bodies) as long as an the ONS provides transparent and independent reporting of outcomes.
And why speak the language of enforcement anyway - if we are supporting innovation and change couldn't we manage a positive agenda rather than a bureaucratic negative one?

Henry Cook

Its a well known fact that as deforestation goes on, the effect of carbon dioxide emissions get worse. Therefore, any attempt to counter this can only be a good thing. If high profile people say they are doing something 'carbon neutral', then it raises awareness among the general public about the need to preserve (or indeed conserve, as we are conservatives) our planet.

Henry Cook

"Do we we need a "powerful" new body to enforce performance? - I thought that's why we elected a government."

Well, as the press release says, governments are motivated by short-term gain, and so a body outside of government and not affiliated to any party can ensure progress continues whoever is in Number 10.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Wat, it may be a fad and it is certainly not any sort of global solution, but are you really suggesting that planting a few trees is a bad thing?

 Ted

Henry thats' my problem with the proposal - if its unaffiliated, manages its own agenda then it doesn't have a place in a democracy. Anyway the chances of such a body surviving across governments is very small - if it gets in the way I'm sure a Govt could find efficiency gains in bringing it together with x or could realign its goals...look how the National Lottery funds have been used to supplement taxation in core areas.
I think green issues should be a core policy area and also that a conservative governent looking at market based solutions is well placed to drive achievable change. Unlike Mr Tyler I think we have a good history in this area - Mrs T was an early adopter in mainstream politics - and being carbon neutral in DCs campaign is a positive action. The anti-capitalist, negative agenda of many "Green" activists actually gives us a great opportunity.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Henry C, with regards my opposition to the establishment of yet another quango, I'll repeat what I said before.

There's nothing radical or new about following the New Labour path of establishing a quango (or 'powerful new independent body' in Blairspeak) that will no doubt 'look at possible solutions' (in the same way that drivers on a motorway look at an accident, whilst doing nothing about it), 'formulate proposals' (which will be ignored unless they suit the government's goals) and 'guide policy initiatives' (in other words, a tenuous link will be made between any policy actually offered and an obscure quote from a member of the quango).

A radical new approach would actually be offering some practical solutions instead of token gestures and posture politics - we've had enough of that from Princess Tony and the New Labour court jesters and a repeat performance from David Cameron just won't wash, I'm afraid.

The Environment Secretary and his/her Ministers (unless they're taken from the Lords) are elected and well-paid to make the decisions that matter on the environment, supported by an army of well-paid, unelected, unaccountable but (supposedly) politically neutral civil servants, NOT to fritter away even more of the taxpayers' money by palming off their responsibilities onto an unelected, unaccountable quango, which will either be ignored or stuffed full of pro-government yes-men.

If the Environment Secretary (or Shadow Environment Secretary, for that matter) and his/her staff aren't capable of doing their job, they should be replaced by people that are capable instead of dodging their responsibilities by shifting their workload onto an unelected, unaccountable quango.

buxtehude

Oh Henry - "This body will have power" - how on earth can you know? It's just another 'direction' by DC. If he can't predict any other policy, how can he possibly predict that this thing will ever exist, let alone do anything worthwhile.

Is it that when Cameron decrees it, then it is real? And whenever he says that 'directions' suffice, then that's all we need? What manner of man is this Cameron, that he merely has to whisper to P. Webster of The Times that he is about to annoucne something, and Henry Cook knows that it is good?

 Ted

Buxtehude - having agreed with you it's the wrong answer I respectively disagree about it being a "direction".
It's a policy - a statement of intent - but it's the wrong one. He's saying that if he is leader and becomes PM that's what he'll do.
I think it clashes with some of his stated positions. It's an attempt to deal with negatives on trust in government, on perceptions of short term electoral advantage and position himself in a good light environmentally. Perhaps also to build bridges with the LibDems in case of a hung parliament?
I'd preferred he'd been less definite and talked in broad generalities but here it is - he's given a policy and I don't like it nor do I like the corporatist non democratic philosophy behind it.

Henry Cook

"What manner of man is this Cameron, that he merely has to whisper to P. Webster of The Times that he is about to annoucne something, and Henry Cook knows that it is good?"

You do me wrong. I read the proposal a month or so back when first announced by Letwin. The policy was not associated to Cameron and I thought it was a good idea at the time, so I am delighted that DC has taken it up. So please, don't patronise me. If you think I'm so pathetic, don't bother challenging what I say, ignore me, because clearly to you I'm just an ignorant person who agrees with everything DC says.

Daniel: Clearly I hope this isn't a Blairite quango, and I hope it is effective. Would you describe the Bank of England as a quango? Of course I could be proved wrong, but I hope it will not be a gimmick and will make a difference. I believe some firm action needs to be taken and, crucially, it must be sustained. That is why in my view an unelected body is necessary - so that governments' short term interests do not disrupt this vital task. It is indeed unelected, and perhaps even unaccountable - but so are the big businesses and big airlines that produce the bulk of this CO2. No-one elected them to churn out gases harmful to the environment.

Ted - "Henry thats' my problem with the proposal - if its unaffiliated, manages its own agenda then it doesn't have a place in a democracy."

Obviously we don't want a body with its own agenda, but I am sure necessary precautions will be taken to ensure this doesn't happen. The Bank of England does not have its own agenda, I do not see why this cannot be replicated. Hopefully this initiative will get the support of all the parties, and then there would be less of a risk that it will be abolished later on. In addition if it actually works in its first few years and emissions are reduced significantly then the public outcry would be too great for it to be abolished.

loyal_tory

I think some people misunderstand the point of this election. Members have been entrusted with the final decision about who should be the leader (also people forget that only a tiny proportion of the members were consulted about the failed Howard/Maude initiative to deprive party members of their say). That means that this is the time for open and honest debate, for asking questions, and for getting answers. It is more important than selecting a parliamentary candidate, but it is with that frame of mind that members should treat this.

Many people, including me, would have liked an open primary with hustings all around the country, but we have what democracy we have been allowed--this time at least. Now is the time to take advantage of that and cross-examine the candidates about their intentions.

The days of deference in the Conservative Party are over. Leaders are no longer imposed after closed discussions at Westminster. Now is the time to judge exactly how convicing the remaining candidates are about how they would change the party and the country.

loyal_tory

With that in mind, complaining that candidates are criticized on this site misses the point of having an election.

buxtehude

Henry Cook says "You do me wrong". Quite possibly, and I apologise. Those of us beginning a night shift sometimes get a little tetchy. But maybe you can also understand the frustration of the uncovinced when we listen to the DC camp talk as if their man walks on water. It's all assertion. You cannot simply state that this "new powerful body" will indeed be a powerful new body. To some of us it looks like another quango whistling in the dark. It is NOT the same as the Bank of England, which, when it sets interest rates, sets interest rates. You cannot likewise command the carbon emissions reduce.

Ian Sider

Seventy posts and counting on Conservatives and climate change. Evidence of a change in the political climate if nothing else.

wasp

There is also the point to be made that potentially beneficial new technologies such as clean coal may well be developed but they can only be introduced if there is a framework to make them work.

Carbon neutrality is quite a good idea, even if it does sound silly. I hope he's not just paying for tree planting. It could also be used to provide solar water heaters in India for instance.

Simon C

Back to Wat's post a little further up, about the carbon-neutral Cameron campaign. I am glad that someone else spotted that as well. When I read it I thought it a little gimmicky - style without much substance - but wondered whether I was being uncharitable.

Whilst there are more important questions for the Cameron campaign to answer, I hope that, in a spirit of transparency, they will release the results of their carbon-audit, and tell us precisely how many trees they are going to have to plant, and where.

wasp

As I said it doesn't have to be trees, he could be paying for solar panels for sub-saharan african towns that would replace their need for fossil fuels.

Its easy to deride it as a gimmick but I think it does show responsibility

Simon C

Fair enough Wasp - I would still like to see the audit result though, and know what steps he will actually be committing to. If he's going to make a point of this, which he has, he needs to follow it through.

Presumably this will also be extended to CCHQ if he becomes leader. Will solar panels be enough to cover central office's carbon emissions? :)

wasp

I doubt it will be extended to CCHQ its normally something that people do for one off projects.

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