IT'S ALWAYS easier to promise when you’re in opposition: just ask Nick Clegg, or for that matter David Cameron.
The latter used his four minutes at the UN climate summit in New York in September to assert that he had kept the promise to run the greenest government ever.
A cynic might ask how so, given his pa- tience with Owen Paterson as environment secretary, the U-turns on green levies, the results of the environmental audit commit- tee’s recent scorecard showing less than satisfactory progress in all 10 environmental areas assessed and his reluctance to even speak on the topic of the environment for the first four years of his tenure.
How things have changed from those heady days of husky-hugging in 2010. Clegg, at last year’s Liberal Democrat party confer- ence, said he had had to fight “tooth and nail” with his coalition partners to retain a trickle of the promised green policies.
So should we believe Ed Miliband – the man striving to take the keys to Number 10, and quite possibly in another coalition – when he told his party’s conference in September that he will “take all the carbon out of our electricity by 2030” and create a million new green jobs?
“The environment isn’t that fashionable any more in politics, as you may have noticed with David Cameron. But it matters,” Miliband said. “And there is no more im- portant issue for me, when I think about my children’s generation and what I can do in politics, than tackling global climate change.” China, India and the US might also have a say on that front.
Yet such grand policy ambitions – which always emerge as the manifestos are built and a general election approaches – can blind even the most green-leaning of NGOs. Some have been cooing on the back of Miliband’s warm words, much like they were four years ago when Cameron was, in opposition, the green champion elect. The fact that the environment remains a credible vote-winner and not “the green crap” is at least reason for optimism.