Author Archives: Alastair Harper

Why Miliband and Cameron shouldn’t be shy about climate change

Climate ChangeA version of this article was first published on Labour List.

At last year’s party conference, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna said to a public meeting that he had recommended Labour’s electoral team to make a television broadcast around Ed Miliband’s work at the Copenhagen summit in 2009. It would have shown the Labour leader as someone operating comfortably and in a statesmanlike way with the world’s most powerful. But it didn’t happen and, instead of showing how Labour could stand strong on the international stage they focused on domestic energy policy, launching the prize freeze at the same conference. Read more

From huskies to now: 10 examples that show Tory green thinking is alive and well

letwinSome Conservative commentators have argued that the vote blue/go green period of David Cameron’s leadership was unconsidered advertising, not built on any foundation of conservative philosophy. But a review of recent conservative writing on green issues suggests otherwise.  The writers are building upon the ideals of Burke and the actions of Thatcher. After a period of relative quiet after the 2010 election, we are now seeing a new wave of green conservative thinking, which suggests the environment remains close to the heart of many conservatives. Here’s a roundup of ten the best from 2007 to now: Read more

Conference diary: where now for green conservatism?

6217321664_fdb5fc1678_bIn his latest post from the party conferences,  Green Alliance’s  Alastair Harper reports from Manchester. This piece first appeared on BusinessGreen.

There’s something surreal about the way the parties shuffle the same cities for their annual conferences. Last night, I sat in on a reception for a right-of-centre think tank, filled with young people chatting earnestly about the perils of welfare reliance and how innovation was being shackled by government regulation. In exactly the same room last year, I watched another large group of young people chatting earnestly about the perils of cuts to essential services and how growth was being limited due to lack of government stimulus investment. Surreal, but also a useful lab setting in which to compare the parties. Read more

Conference diary: Labour’s sunny spells

BrightonGreen Alliance’s roving diarist of the party conference season, Alastair Harper, gives his view from the Labour conference in Brighton. It first appeared on BusinessGreen.

I am by the beach in perfect weather and this has been my office for the past few days. In between stuffy roundtables on the subject of the energy gap, people are swimming in the sea.

It is hard not to feel optimistic about all things but, as we say, you can’t confuse weather with the climate. So how is the political climate for the Labour Party on green? After yesterday’s leader’s speech I think that it’s also hotting up. Whether you think Labour will form the next government, whether you like his ideas or not, Ed Miliband has put the environment back into British political discourse. Read more

Conference diary: do the Lib Dems have any big green ideas left?

Lib Dem conferenceGreen Alliance’s very own roving diarist of the party conference season, Alastair Harper, is back again this year with his first posting from the Liberal Democrats’ conference in Glasgow. It first appeared on BusinessGreen.

This is the year the parties position themselves for the electorate. What do they want people to vote for? The Liberal Democrats should have arrived in a drenched Glasgow ready to say it is for a strong environment. While the other parties spent their beach holidays reading books by or about their parliamentary colleagues, they were reading about the environment, with a survey showing they favoured the excellent Burning Question and Tony Juniper’s What has nature ever done for us? Read more

The return of the politicians to the green economy fray

DSC_4004This post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

For three years business leaders and civil society have led the drive to decarbonise our economy. Politicians have remained almost silent. But this silence may be about to end.

Earlier this month, Ed Balls became the first big political figure to make a headline speech about climate change since the last general election. Though he has been exploring the barriers to low carbon investment behind closed doors for some time, many had come to presume it just wasn’t of interest to a politician at his level. But they were wrong. Why? Read more

Never turn your back on a crumb

Wind Turbine and sun from belowThis post first appeared on Business Green.

It’s sometimes hard to know if we’re winning or losing.

Last weekend we learned from Greenpeace that “in pushing for a 50 per cent European carbon cut by 2030, Ed Davey and the Prime Minister have secured a rare outbreak of Cabinet common sense on climate policy”. But, meanwhile, the Guardian told us that this was just “a sop to environment campaigners,” while the government risked “tens of billions of pounds of green investment” by opposing a renewables target. Just to make things as clear as mud, the CBI said that the government announcement had given “a clear UK position on a single 2030 emissions reduction target [that] will help reassure investors.” Read more

Stop worrying about mystery lobbyists, the green economy is winning

PylonsThis post first appeared on Business Green.

On Friday afternoon, a spoof twitter account sent the great and the good of the energy world into a frenzy of speculation. It was the climax of an odd week, during which everyone seemed to be asking each other “Who are Power Line?”. At one point, a senior banking employee called and asked me if I knew. He’d been asked by one of his clients, a major building company, who had, in turn, been asked to find out by their major trade association. Read more

Why we need low carbon infrastructure, not “shovel ready” zombie roads

Cutting road works with hydraulic driven angle grinderThis post was first published on the New Statesman blog.

After three years of vigorous disagreement the political and economic commentariat seem to have found common ground. Infrastructure. Left and right now agree that it’s vital for the UK’s economic renewal, requires much greater infrastructure investment, and the Chancellor looks set to move it closer to the centre stage in the Budget. Read more

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