Tag Archives: Greenest government yet

Owen Patterson, the Secretary of State for the Environment, on Any Questions

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Patterson, recently graced Any Questionsthe BBC Radio 4 show, with his presence.

I listened to his performance and was utterly horrified. I knew he has quite a history when it comes to climate change but to hear him repeating so many climate change myths in such a short period of time was terrifying.

Luckily for you my dear reader, our friends over at skepticalscience.com have responded to his regurgitation of some old myths. It is worth reading their whole blog but I wanted to draw your attention to the manuscript of Patterson’s tirade where they have usefully hyperlinked every false claim to a separate myth busting page.

“Well I’m sitting like a rose between two thorns here and I have to take practical decisions – erm – the climate’s always been changing – er – Peter mentioned the Arctic and I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completelyand you can see there were beaches there – when Greenland was occupied, you know, people growing crops – we then had a little ice age, we had a middle age warming – the climate’s been going up and down – but the real question which I think everyone’s trying to address is – is this influenced by manmade activity in recent years and James is actually correct – the climatehas not changed – the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years and what I think we’ve got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly – bound to be – some influence by manmade activity but I think we’ve just got to be rational (audience laughter)  – rational people – and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don’t actually cause more damage – and I think we’re about to get -“

Peter Hain interjects at this point with the observation: 

“And this man is our Secretary of State for the Environment, for goodness’ sake!”

In ten seconds Patterson managed to discredit himself, Cameron (for it was he who chose him for this position despite knowing his ‘views’), and the entire reputation of the British government as one that takes climate change seriously.

Cameron cannot keep someone in such a key role who holds such fundamentally dangerous views about climate change. Either this government’s reputation goes or Patterson goes, Cameron can’t keep them both!

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The greenest government yet? Sadly yes!

The greenest government yet?

This coalition government set out to be “the greenest government yet“.  Sadly, it appears to be achieving this.  Not because of any amazing policy initiative but more out of an utter failure of New Labour to act on climate change.  The over-riding message coming out of this government is we are acting “Green”.  The over-riding message coming out of NGO’s is “good, but you desperately need to go further”.

So what have the coalition achieved so far?

1 The Green Deal: 100,000 jobs to insulate and upgrade homes, reducing carbon emissions and saving money
2 £1bn for a Green Investment Bank
3 Replacing Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty
4 Scrapping Heathrow’s third runway
5 £200m for low-carbon technologies, including £60m for infrastructure to help create an offshore wind manufacturing industry
6 £1bn for a commercial scale Carbon Capture and Storage
7 £860m will fund a Renewable Heat Incentive
8 Lobbying the EU to increase our emissions cut target from 20 per cent to 30 per cent and provided effective leadership at Cancun.

This government has done more in 6 months than Labour achieved in 13 years to tackle climate change. Yet, anyone who is aware of the severity of the problems facing the UK through climate change can see that these measures simply do not go far enough.  The Green Investment Bank for example is a good idea, but it needs investment 4 – 6 times the amount currently being proposed to be truly effective.

This is the greenest government yet, that I have little doubt.  To be able to mutter this statement though is a cause for Labour to hide in shame, not for the coalition to hold its head up high.  We need to congratulate the coalition on the steps they have taken and push them further – much further.

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