Shortly after the Coalition agreement of 2010, David Cameron declared that the new Government would be the “greenest ever”. In May of this year the Conservative government went to polls with, perhaps, an even more radical green agenda. The Conservative manifesto promised bold and exciting initiatives: marine conservation and offshore wind to name just two. However, you would have been forgiven for not noticing. Green issues no longer command the media attention that they did in the pre-recession years. Little coverage was given when George Osborne promised to build a marine reserve around the Pitcairn Islands that is four times the size of Great Britain.
Despite the lack of media coverage environmental policy is more relevant than ever. In December of this year 196 countries will come to together to negotiate a new climate change deal. This makes this the optimal time for the Government to get green policies back in focus, but there remain significant challenges. David Cameron now has a slender majority and the party is often fragmented on green issues. The Prime Minister must therefore dedicate all his resources to ensuring that the environmental manifesto commitments are brought to fruition. The Conservative party must become the party of the environment as much as it is the party of the economy.
Here at Bright Blue we are committed to ensuring that green issues remain at the top of the agenda. In July of this year we published a report by our Associate Fellow Ben Caldecott that outlined the path by which the centre-right of UK politics could better embed sustainability and long-termism within the UK economy. The report, entitled “Green and responsible conservatism”, showed that by appreciating, and subsequently overcoming, issues that hamper our capacity to create more sustainable and long-term policy, we can produce improved environmental, economic, and social outcomes.
The report proposes a number of exciting and cost-effective policies to construct a greener and more long-term economy grounded around three major themes: tackling the tragedy of horizons in public and private sector institutions, securing value for money in relation to environmental outcomes, and urging a new internationalism to address climate change. As part of Ben’s paper Bright Blue is now calling on this Government to phase out all of the remaining coal-fired power stations by 2020.
In addition to Ben Caldecott’s report Bright Blue’s most recent magazine was dedicated to the issue of the environment. The magazine, entitled “A green and prosperous land?”, addressed the issue of climate and other sustainability issues. It featured Lord Deben who argued that there had been market failure on carbon pricing, while the former Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee Tim Yeo advocated the conservative case for low-carbon subsidies. Bright Blue’s Associate Fellow Ben Caldecott looked forward to the Paris meeting in December and the challenges facing the 196 countries.
Bright Blue also regularly holds an energy and climate change forum in London to discuss environmental issues. The forum, which is open to all, is used as an informal platform to discuss current policy and to suggest ideas that attendees believe that Bright Blue should be advocating.
We strongly believe in the importance of a greener, more sustainable economy and we believe that the Conservative party are best-placed to deliver such an economy. Bright Blue is always delighted to accept new members who sympathise with our objectives, and we would be thrilled to see as many of you as possible at our think forums and other events.