Let’s get some green political advice (Part 1 of 3)



House of Commons

With the general election next month the Blog Team wanted to find out some more about the environmental policies of each party and whether any of these would impact on the Double Glazing Industry.

Below is a guest post from Better Generation written by Dom. Better Generation was established in Spring 2006 with one main focus, make mircogeneration affordable. Better Generation has become one of the most active independent web communities in the UK.  More recently Better Generation has featured on BBC2, BBC3, Channel 4, The Guardian, The Telegraph and most recently Channel 4’s Grand Designs Magazine.

This gave us the Blog Team a better understanding of the environmental policies and hopefully it helps you to. The article written by Better Generation will be split into three separate blogs each focusing on a particular political party. Today we will look at Labours pledges:

“The General Election is 3 weeks away and the major parties have all released their manifestos, the list of pledges they will try to fulfil if elected. We’ve taken a look at their environmental policies and how they might push renewable energy and green legislation.

Hopes were relatively high amongst those environmentalists with their eyes on U.K. politics this year that the Labour General Election Manifesto might provide some interesting and new proposals on the environment and energy supplies. This was because the man tasked with drafting Labour’s proposals for the next five years, should they be elected, was Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the man who has been in charge of the government’s response to energy and climate issues for the past two years. The manifesto was launched on Monday and did indeed include a large amount of detail in this area. Many promises were included, such as new carbon emissions targets, 40 times the current number of offshore wind turbines, 400,000 new jobs in the green sector by 2015, pay-as-you save home insulation, new legislation to require landlords to properly insulate rented homes and power to local councils to promote district heating.

Greens’ reaction to the manifesto was mixed. Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said, “It fails to commit the UK to cutting its emissions by at least 42 per cent by 2020, which is needed to ensure this country plays its fair part in tackling global warming. Even welcome policies such as promoting electric vehicles are undermined by gas-guzzling plans such as motorway-widening and airport expansion.”

One problem with all of these Labour proposals, however, is that very little is new or innovative about the suggestions. James Murray at BusinessGreen wrote that the manifesto was merely a “reiteration” of existing plans and noted that the Conservative’s manifesto contains many similar or even identical proposals. He claimed that, “you cannot get a cigarette paper between the two main parties on most of the big ticket environmental policies.”

The most interesting part of the Labour manifesto that related to environmental policies was pointed out by The Guardian yesterday. The start of the “Green Recovery” chapter in Labour’s lengthy document states that, “Only active governments can shape markets to prioritise green growth and job creation. Environmental sustainability cannot be left to individuals and businesses acting alone.” This indicates an increased willingness to move away from what the Guardian called “targets, encouragement and partnerships” and towards “firm rules, limits and sanctions.”

All this must be examined with some caution given the fact that the current government have had 13 years in which to enact effective environmental policies and this move may be simple electioneering, an attempt to draw a line between Conservative and Labour policies. The Labour government’s record on green issues has improved in recent years but they are still overseeing a period of falling green taxes (even before the economic downturn) when they should be rising.

The next post tomorrow will talk about what the Conservatives have included within their manifesto which also includes a chapter on environmental policies.

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