The Conservative party roll out a bunch of environmental ideas today, a taster of the greener side of their manifesto. Among them are plans to create green savings accounts and an investment bank, and make all government departments declare their emissions. Recycling policy would switch from stick to carrot, with people being paid to recycle rather than fined for not doing so. George Osborne, in one of a series of speeches on climate change this week, also announced that the Conservatives would back 10:10 should they come to power.
That’s an interesting one, since it’s the Lib Dems who put the 10:10 promise before parliament recently, but it’s welcome all the same. Since the election wouldn’t be until May, the aim would be to reduce carbon emissions across government within 12 months, rather than strictly within 2010.
David Cameron’s greening of the party continues. Whether it’s working or not, we don’t know. It’s impossible to say how deep it runs, beyond Cameron and the shadow front bench. A recent poll of the top ten Conservative blogs, for example, revealed that all ten of them were climate sceptics. That’s not particularly surprising. Generally speaking, environmental issues aren’t a major concern among Conservative politicians. There are some notable exceptions of course, but implementing limits and tighter controls is counter-intuitive to the Conservative mindset. As Chris Goodall theorises on his Carbon Commentary blog, “the sceptic case runs strongly with the grain of a fierce antagonism to big government and all its works.”
We’re going to hear a lot of environmental policy ideas in the next few months, from everyone. The environment is going to play a larger role in this coming election than any election previously, and there’s a real opportunity to usher in some new thinking. I’ll be watching this space.