UK: Green Groups Challenge Parties on Their Lack of Environmental Leadership

UK: Green Groups Challenge Parties on Their Lack of Environmental Leadership

In a report published today, seven leading charities, including WWF, RSPB, Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts and Friends of the Earth, assess the green performance of coalition ministers and Labour shadow ministers since the last general election.

They reviewed the parties on four key areas: the economy, communities, nature and international leadership.

The assessment has identified good performance by individual ministers and shadow ministers. However, it concludes that none of the parties has a coherent environmental programme and there is no consistent public leadership on the environment from any of the party leaders.

Among the findings The Green Standard 2013 states that the Liberal Democrats have made an impact on low carbon decisions but have failed to make the environment central to their governing project; they are subsequently losing their identity as a ‘green party’.

The groups say that David Cameron has failed to address the growing scepticism about climate change in the Conservative Party and that, as prime minister, he needs to signal stronger support for UK green policies. However, a number of Conservative ministers are praised for their performance in international negotiations.

Whilst Labour in opposition receives recognition for supporting the development of a low carbon economy, and for opposing the sell-off of public forests and the badger cull, the review concludes that there is still “no real sense that the environment is at the heart of One Nation Labour.”

Matthew Spencer, director of the think tank Green Alliance, which edited the review said: “In private our party leaders speak eloquently about the importance of environmental stewardship to their political mission, but they have rarely made the case publicly since the election. As a result the coalition has lost momentum as a reforming government seeking to be green. The opposition is raising its game, but has been slow to develop the policy ideas necessary to realise its ambition.”

The review identifies the most significant ministerial interventions of the past three years:

•    Conservatives: George Osborne has framed environmental policy as an obstacle to growth, not as a route to prosperity. William Hague, Richard Benyon and Greg Barker are praised for their leadership in international negotiations.
•    Labour: Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have shown promising leadership on the low carbon economy. But Labour has not developed a programme for delivering its green ambitions.
•    Liberal Democrats have won some significant battles on climate change. But Ed Davey’s performance on the detail of electricity market reform has been patchy.

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Press release, September 13, 2013; Image: Siemens

 

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