High praise for Huhne’s green proposals

by Stephen Tall on September 3, 2007

Chris Huhne’s new zero-carbon Britain proposals – which Chris wrote about for Lib Dem Voice last week – have met with the glowing approval of Guardian economics correspondent, Ashley Seagar:

At last someone in the mainstream of politics is taking climate change seriously. … when one of the main parties comes up with a coherent strategy for dealing with climate change, both at home and abroad, it deserves close attention, particularly as … Labour has made very little progress in moving to a sustainable energy economy, and knows it. The Tories, too, although talking about taxing flights, will duck serious policy changes when their Quality of Life report emerges later this month.

The LibDem document makes for fascinating reading.

It suggests a huge improvement in energy efficiency through a mix of measures such as insulation, renewable generation methods such as wind, tidal and solar, and the strengthening of international carbon-trading schemes. … The paper’s strength is that it is not pie in the sky. Whereas Labour talks repeatedly about “benchmarking” and “international best practice”, it stubbornly refuses to do that for environmental policies.

But the LibDems are happy to endorse the carbon taxes of Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, the feed-in tariffs of much of Europe and elsewhere, and so on. Their paper is full of “price signals” that emitting carbon is bad. That is a good thing. Their document brings together most sensible proposals on saving energy and renewables that are around and places them at the heart of a coherent strategy which would have a proper cabinet committee to coordinate it. It’s not rocket science, but the government doesn’t seem to get it.

Chris Huhne, the LibDems’ environmental spokesman, says this coherence, combined with the policy’s central place at the heart of government, is what distinguishes it. …

So are the Tories about to follow the LibDems’ lead and come up with a similarly bold strategy? Don’t bank on it. … We should not expect any great changes to policy under Gordon Brown, who does not really “get” climate change. He resents environmentalists who, he thinks, failed to come to his aid over the fuel protests in 2000. He also thinks going green can only be done at the cost of slower economic growth, which he will not contemplate. Never mind that the German drive to go green has created 250,000 jobs and built a major export industry.