Sunday, 7 November 2010

Greenest Government Ever Claims Are Pure Spin

Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim, that his would be the greenest government ever, are proving to be all words and no action. In the recent Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had its budget slashed by 30%, considerably more than the government department average of 19%. Around 8,000 jobs will be lost.

Further savings will be made by reducing spending on flood defence by around a third and consideration is being given to the selling off of National Nature Reserves. The government has also announced that a review of the regulation of food and farming. This could well lead to less regulation in this industry, which has a history of damaging biodiversity and water pollution. Look at what less regulation did to the banking industry and our economy. Environmental standards need to be strictly enforced, or firms will neglect their duties to protect our natural environment when it suits them.

The ‘Warm Front’ initiative, which provides money to people for energy efficiency measures like home insulation, on a means tested basis, is to be ended after next year. By doing this, the government is turning its back on the poorest in our society, not for the first time, and condemning them to a future of fuel poverty. At the same time, they are cutting thousands of jobs of the workers who have been carrying out this work, at a time of mass unemployment. These energy efficiency measures would eventually pay for themselves as well as reducing the country’s carbon footprint, but the ‘greenest government ever’ is more interested in cutting the budget deficit, than expanding or even continuing this sensible policy.

Transport policy comes off no better in the CSR. From 2012 the cost of rail travel will increase by 30% over the next five years. Commuters will be particularly badly hit by these increases, with for example, a rise of £1000 per year for someone commuting from Brighton to London over this period. Bus fares across the country will also rise as there will be a 20% cut in the fuel subsidy that bus companies get by 2015. In London, bus and underground fares will rise by 2% above inflation, meaning a single bus fare will rise by 10p per journey from next year. This at a time when we should be encouraging people to use public transport, and so reduce traffic congestion and our carbon emissions.

So, how can Cameron make this ridiculous claim of being the greenest government? Well, its pure spin. A kind of feel good factor for the public, if you say you are green often enough, then people will think it’s true. The facts on the other hand, tell a completely different story.

No comments: