How can Cameron believe that anyone takes seriously his claim that he runs the greenest government ever? If that’s not meant to be a rancid joke, he must be even more out-of-touch than we thought, even after the budget, the No.10 dinner parties, jerry pans and pasties. The Tories have now abruptly halved the feed-in tariff rates, cutting off the burgeoning solar power industry at the knees. A published letter from over 100 Tory MPs demanded that wind energy subsidies be curtailed. The failed attempt to launch a government competition to fund CCS (carbon capture and storage) to extend the life of fossil fuels compatibly with declining climate change targets was resurrected, but then faded again. Worst of all, Osborne made his view known brutally that the government wasn’t going to throw any more money at environmental targets which were unaffordable in austerity (of his own making of course). Now even the Green Deal, launched only days ago by the Tory climate change minister, is in danger of being ditched. Green? – more like dirty brown.
What all this means is not just some disagreement about the extent or pace of green policies, but rather a fundamental, or indeed fundamentalist, repudiation of anything to do with green objectives at all. Just as the Tories don’t want just to tinker with the Welfare State but rather to dismantle it altogether, so here they want to eliminate every vestige of environmentalism and instead concentrate on unabashed wealth creation.
Now the last straw is that the Big Six energy utilities and supermarketeers like Tesco and M&S, who had previously been lined up as major advocates of the Green Deal, are backing away because they perceive the government as at best lukewarm and at worst as downright hostile. For months they have been calling behind the scenes for government leadership, but in despair at the listless lack of strategy many of them didn’t even attend the launch for fear that, without a strong government lead, the Green Deal simply wouldn’t work.
And with Cameron as flip-flopper in chief, always blown about by the latest currents among the deeply reactionary diehards on his back benches, the whole environmental project is in jeopardy, egged on by the flat-earthers in the Lords led by Lord (in denial) Lawson. As Tacitus said with some prescience: solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.