Monday, 19 November 2007

BROWN AND BENN'S SPEECHES: Too Little too late?

After a long wait, Gordon Brown has finally spoken out about the environment. Its been a long time coming, and it may be that he has left it too late. Despite many years of looking at what can be done, they are still announcing that they are investigating! They have found £24 billion to prop up a dodgy bank that was lending money at great risk. They have announced a "green hotline" to advise on green issues, lets hope they are more knowledgeble than other government departments, who have in the past been hopeless.

Highlights are:
* Revision of 60 per cent target must happen now
* £100 million to support renewables and energy efficiency in the home 'pitiful'
* Urgent roll out of feed-in tariffs needed, not more delay

Green Party Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas MEP today responded to Gordon Brown's first major speech on the environment since becoming Prime Minister, and also criticised measures unveiled by the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

Caroline said "Six months in the job of Prime Minister, and Brown has finally got
around to talking about climate change. Whilst I welcome plans to consider tightening the 60 per target, the government is playing catch-up - and asking another committee to look at the figures won't help. To make real headway on curbing our emissions, we need to act now. We do not have time for yet more commissions and reviews, for more political delay. Today's speech was sorely lacking in real measures to reduce our emissions. Current government policies in support of renewable energy are confusing, piecemeal and inadequate, and now seem to be in complete disarray. Brown's announcement today to push ahead with pursuing the nuclear option will only make things worse. The fledgling renewables industry is being held hostage by the government's love affair with nuclear power. The UK could be a world leader in the young, clean and cutting-edge renewable energy industry. We are better placed than anywhere else in Europe to access this source of power, but are failing badly to realise our potential. The best way to support and develop the renewables industry is to adopt a simple framework of guaranteed prices for exported renewable energy - something the government said today they will 'investigate.' Feed-in tariffs have been a runaway success in Germany and other countries, stimulating both large- and small-scale projects and kick- starting a profitable industry that supports many thousands of jobs."

Caroline also criticised Environment Secretary Hilary Benn's announcement of £100 million in government funding to build the existing energy advice service into a proactive 'Green Homes Service.' "£100m pounds to expand the use of renewable energy in the home and promote greater energy efficiency is pitiful. The government plan to spend fifty times this amount on expanding one road - the M1 - which will by definition increase our emissions! (1)
Protecting the environment and preventing the worst impacts of climate change are the most urgent problems we face – and the measures announced today won't make any real difference to either."

(1) It was revealed in May 2007 that the cost of widening the M1, Britain's biggest road-building project has now risen to £5.1bn.


Michael Green said...

I find it very contradictory that Caroline Lucas MEP accuses other political parties of talk and no action, yet after reading the Green Party manifesto I do not seem to find anyways for the Green policies in it to be put into action, it reads more like a shopping list of change rather then a political manifesto which should flag up problems, find the best solution and explain ways of implementation.

Adrian Windisch said...

I'm impressed you've read our manifesto, its hundereds of pages long, packed full of practical ways to reduce our carbon emissions.

For example at the last conference we voted to have a 9% reduction in emissions every year. Other parties by contrast want cuts but imply there is no hurry, by giving eg 90% by 2050.

Also other parties only issue manifestos at elections, ours is a continuous document updated twice a year for many years.

Richard said...

These comments are well needed from the green party. It is obvious that nothing will now happen for a few years because the top figure of government has just thrown more blatant delay tactics at the issues.

A 2010 target would be the best place to start - Tony Blair refused to make targets within sensible timelines because that would have required action.

The UK Green Party does have many very useful and constructive ideas for solutions, however I agree with Michael that work needs to be done to make them clearer.

The voice of the Green Party is still quite faint.

Adrian Windisch said...

Richard, a 2010 target would be an improvement but wont hold the government to account, as they may loose the next election in 2009.

As I said before we want a 9% reduction every year, this will allow people to judge every year, and will force action on this important issue.