Credit where credit is due?

Posted On 06 Dec 2019 at 12:10 am

Since 2010, Conservative governments have taken several vital steps to protect the environment.

They have ratified the Paris Agreement, cut single-use plastic bags by 86 per cent through the plastic bag charge and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent.

They have also generated record levels of solar and wind energy and committed to ending coal-generated power by 2025.

Theresa May’s government made Britain the world’s first major economy to pass a net zero carbon emissions law, with the express aim of doing so by 2050.

Since 1990 our carbon emissions have fallen 42 per cent while our economy has grown by 72 per cent – yet there is clearly much more to do.

Last month the government announced another 12 new renewable energy projects generating clean energy at below current market prices for over seven million homes.

The evidence of huge progress is right there if we look offshore to the Rampion wind farm which hopefully will be doubled in size.

It was completed a couple of years ago and has the capacity to supply 4 in every 10 homes in the whole of Sussex with emission-free electricity, saving 600,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Renewables now deliver nearly one third of our electricity supply.

Conservative governments are rarely recognised by Green and Labour activists for the progress made, most probably to accommodate their own political narrative.

Yet when Greens and Labour have real power like in our own city of Brighton and Hove, what – apart from a lot of hot air – do they actually deliver?

Air quality remains scandalously poor in some of our main city centre streets, recycling rates remain woefully low (and that’s when the refuse is even collected), there are few electric vehicle charging points and emissions from services and buildings procured by the council aren’t measured, discussed or targeted.

I recognise that the council’s carbon footprint has significantly reduced but we shouldn’t be surprised when big carbon-generating buildings like King’s House in Hove have been sold.

I have a lot of time for climate change activists and appreciate the fact that they are succeeding in raising the threat from CO2 and pushing it higher up the political agenda.

Sometimes their tactics are wrong and indeed their appreciation of the political challenges in delivering on their demands is severely underestimated.

But climate change is very real and is happening now. This is a crisis of huge proportions. That’s why last month the government set out a new Environment Bill which is a huge step in the right direction.

Environmental policies will be enshrined in law, involving measures to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.

“Vote blue and get real green policies” was never truer than it is now. The Conservative Party is the party that wants to and will conserve our environment most.

Joe Miller is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown at the general election.

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