Azara Blog: More hot air all around on the environment

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Date published: 2006/04/19

The BBC says:

Protecting the environment can boost rather than hinder economic growth, Chancellor Gordon Brown is saying.

In a speech to the United Nations in New York on Thursday, Mr Brown will call for a global response to the problem of climate change.

The chancellor denied being rattled by Tory leader David Cameron's recent emphasis on green issues.

Mr Cameron is set to visit northern Norway to study the effects of global warming on glaciers.

During his US trip, Mr Brown is expected to discuss oil at a G8 meeting in Washington.

But his first task is his speech on the "global challenge of environmental change".

In an interview with BBC News, he said: "The difficulty is if we don't deal with the environment it will have adverse effects on climate and then on the economy and our ability to grow.

"The good thing, however, is that I'm more optimistic than ever that we can build an international consensus."

He said countries were increasingly recognising the need to act on high oil prices by moving to a more diverse range of energy supplies.

And there were huge opportunities to use new science and technology to meet energy needs in an environmentally friendly way.

More hot air, Labour is indeed a bit rattled by Cameron, he looks a bit too much like they did a decade ago. Of course the Cameron trip to Norway is just a PR stunt (no doubt lots of journalists and hangers on will accompany, adding up to a huge amount of carbon emissions), but the Brown trip to New York is not much better.

Well at least the Conservative party political ad tonight on TV was better than Labour's last night. For one thing they actually talked about their policies, rather than trashing the opposition. This ad was all about why voting "blue" is actually voting "green". They claimed that 4 of the top 5 councils for recycling were Tory, which is hardly surprising given that recycling is the way the rich, who are still mostly Tories, make themselves feel less guilty about all the resources they are consuming. And they, like Brown, talk about "green growth". All rather meaningless spin.

Meanwhile, on a related front, the BBC says:

Thirty-five environmental and energy groups have issued a joint manifesto in response to the UK government's current energy policy review.

The joint statement reflects the priorities and policies the groups believe should emerge from the review.

It calls on the government to uphold the vision and targets contained in the 2003 Energy White Paper.

Representatives from the groups along with MPs launched the manifesto at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Philip Wolfe, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, which helped organise the joint statement, said: "This is the last chance for government to bring forward a sustained package of measures to deliver the objectives set out in 2003.

"Industry is looking for strong signals so we can invest in the necessary changes to our energy system."

The manifesto calls on the government to:

The groups say this strategic framework, along with related policy measures, should "enhance sustainability, boost UK industry and reduce fuel poverty".

The 35 groups are mostly the usual suspects, and this "manifesto" is so unoriginal that it's obvious the whole point was just to get lots of free publicity for the usual comfortable middle class views. In particular, what they mean by reducing demand and focusing on "sustainable transport" is to hammer car drivers (who are the only people in the UK who currently pay a carbon tax) and to subsidise train commuters even more (so an even bigger carbon subsidy, courtesy of car drivers), and to increase air fares so that only the middle class can once again afford to fly (there's nothing worse than having to share an airplane with a bunch of working class slobs when you are flying to Norway or New York for political grandstanding).

And many of the 35 groups have a direct financial interest in renewable energy, so of course they want a "boost" (i.e. yet more government subsidy) for that, and it's hardly a grand principle to demand that the rest of the country subsidise your business. They want energy to be more expensive (renewables are, and oil, gas and coal should have a whacking great carbon tax), so their claim about reducing "fuel poverty" rings rather hollow. It will not be the comfortable middle class who suffer when energy prices soar.

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