Talking to civil servants at the Department of Energy and Climate Change this week, Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted his newly formed coalition administration to be ‘the greenest government ever.’
Supported by Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne who will run the department, Cameron affirmed to his audience of civil servants his commitment to tackling climate change and making the environment a top priority for his government.
In his speech, Cameron said, ‘There is a fourth minister in this department who cares passionately about this agenda and that is me, the prime minister, right. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.’
Huhne added, ‘Climate change is in my view, our view, the greatest challenge facing mankind.’ He then talked about his plan to go ‘further and faster than ever before’.
Cameron went on to formally announce his government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 10% in its first 12 months. To help deliver this, he would introduce a new initiative where the government’s real time energy consumption rates would be published. The aim was to lead by example by offering transparency, and ultimately cutting carbon emissions. He believed it was ‘a new way of tackling climate change and a new way of doing politics’.
He also announced his plan to introduce five year fixed term parliaments which he believed would also benefit how environmental issues were tackled. He said, ‘Nowhere are long-term decisions more needed than actually in the fields of energy and climate change and environment’.
During his speech, the prime minister highlighted three areas for Huhne’s department to prioritise. These are the green economy, climate change and energy security. Cameron said, ‘We’ve got a real opportunity to drive the green economy to have green jobs, green jobs and make sure we have our share of the industries of the future.’
Although the coalition’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 10% was welcomed by the World Development Movement, it’s director, Deborah Doane remained cautious, saying ‘History will judge this government on its green credentials by its policies to cut the UKs emissions dramatically and getting a fair international climate deal, not by turning off its lights at night.’ She added, ‘any suggestion that blue and yellow means a green government are premature because there are so many unanswered questions about the policies’.
The Sustainable Development Commission, an official government watchdog responded more positively. Its chair Will Day said, ‘This is an excellent first step, which has the potential to pay dividends in terms of saving public money through energy efficiency, and contributing towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy for the future.’