IT’S BEEN four years since the coalition promised to become the “greenest government ever”.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and a lot has changed. It has gone from that statement of intent to reports of wanting to “cut the green crap” (cue tax breaks for polluting industries and cuts to renew- able incentives). Given the short cycles in politics it was ever going to be thus, but given some of the decisions it’s hard to see if this blue-yellow (we know what colour that makes) coalition ever really had the right mix.
In spite of his spiel on climate before being elected, the chancellor has done more than most to ensure that climate change and renewable energy are as far down the list of priorities as possible. A dash for gas and his passion for fracking show where his priorities lie – in his own words: “I want to provide for the country the cheapest energy possible” and “consistent with us playing our part in an international effort to tackle climate change. But I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world.”
There is little danger of that – especially with Owen Paterson still heading DEFRA. He’s a man unconvinced by anthropogenic climate change. According to the Independent he didn’t have a single briefing on climate change in his first 14 months as environment secretary. Meanwhile, Dan Rogerson, the (fairly) new resource minister and Lib Dem MP, has been told to distance himself from any new waste policy. It’s not a priority.
It is little secret that the Tories have ridden roughshod over their Lib Dem counter- parts in Whitehall. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, did manage to get a charge for plastic bags through and mandatory carbon reporting for big businesses (though the latter has been given a recent stay of execution).
It will be an intriguing 12 months as the parties gee themselves up for the election. There are bound to be more crap promises but what investors and businesses need are concrete policies.