It’s that time of year again when hope is in the air. The nights are getting lighter, sunlight can be felt on our skin for the first time in months, and those who believe in love can go to overpriced restaurants to watch doe-eyed couples try to eat sea bass one-handed whilst holding the hand of the one they love.
Tag Archives: politics
In British politics, governing is as much performance art as it is accounting. Even ‘Fiscal Phil’, that most studious scrutiniser of the spreadsheet knows this. Perhaps this is why his green headlines ahead of the budget were about a single use plastics tax, a clampdown on dirty diesels and a push on EVs. These followed a green October, with Michael Gove ditching neonicotinoids and consulting on a bottle deposit scheme, and Claire Perry producing a Clean Growth Strategy that sees huge opportunities too irresistible for a business department to ignore. But the big reveal on budget day showed that, as far as the Treasury is concerned, the future is still grey.
As Greener UK has already highlighted, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is crucial in ensuring the protection of the UK’s environment. So we will be on high alert when MPs begin their detailed scrutiny of the bill in a little over a week.
It has some major deficiencies, including the omission of the environmental principles which underpin many of our strongest protections. We are also concerned about what we’ve called the governance gap: if we break off relations with some or all EU institutions, we have to replace their functions in the UK to be able to operate to the highest of environmental standards. Read more
Climate and the environment have been steadily making their way up the political agenda of the British public, and younger voters are leading the march.
In 2012, when the then Department for Energy and Climate Change carried out the first wave of its energy and climate change public opinion tracker, only two per cent of the people asked felt that climate change was the biggest challenge facing Britain.
One of Mrs Thatcher’s governments’ most enduring achievements was the European single market, steered into existence by the Conservative European Commissioner, Lord Cockfield. In his memoirs, Cockfield recalled the time he had to tell the prime minister that introducing the single market would entail a degree of tax harmonisation to prevent trade barriers.
The overwhelming atmosphere at Conservative Party conference this week was one of anticipation. Throughout the fringe events and the hotel bars, even in the main hall, a sense that something big was about to happen seemed to pervade everything.
I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue. But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.
Next Tuesday for the first time in this election campaign, the public will get the chance to put questions directly to the major parties on their ambitions and aims for the environment in the next parliament at the Greener UK Hustings.
The debate will include issues like air quality and pollution, nature protection, international leadership, farming and fisheries, climate change and, perhaps most pertinently, what the UK’s exit from the EU will mean for all of the above. Read more
This post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis, it is based on research presented in a paper published by the journal Environmental Politics.
While climate deniers on both sides of the Atlantic attract media and public attention, the overwhelming majority of politicians in the UK support the scientific consensus on climate change. Just five out of 650 MPs voted against the Climate Change Act in 2008, and major parties in Westminster have all pledged their support for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, signed in December 2015. Read more
Travelling back to London on an overcast Wednesday afternoon (in the booked seat of a train company that shall remain nameless), the air conditioning broke and a small but steady stream of water leaked from the ceiling into my lap. The same thing happened to other people up and down the length of the carriage: dripping on scalps, trickling down backs and, in one unfortunate case, pouring straight onto a hapless worker’s laptop. The incident led to much British tutting and rolling of eyes. Complaints to the guard were followed by conversations with neighbours, the sharing of napkins and even a few jokes. This annoying shared experience led to a sense of unity amongst my previously silent fellow travellers.