Sam Hall Director of the Conservative Environment Network: Last week, Extinction Rebellion triggered an important debate about the UK’s response to climate change and biodiversity loss. Many will disagree with their demands, particularly the 2025 net zero emissions target, which experts agree is unachievable. But there is much to admire in their passion for tackling these vital challenges of our time. We should all share their urgency for stronger action, as there is no doubt that we must do more and faster to arrest these environmental crises. It is important that conservatives respond to Extinction Rebellion, not by ridiculing them, but by proposing our own ambitious, market-based policies for decarbonisation and nature restoration. We are not yet on track to meet our 2050 net zero target or even the next two interim targets. This year’s Conservative Party Conference showed that ministers, MPs, councillors, and members now firmly view the environment as a top priority. The Government’s first set of pre-conference announcements were all related to the environment: a £1 billion fund to support the development of the electric vehicle supply chain; stronger standards for energy efficiency and low-carbon heating in new homes; and a new forest in Northumberland. The Conservative Environment Network hosted 16 events across the three days on a diverse set of green topics. These ranged from the potential for artificial intelligence to support net zero and the role of councils in tackling air pollution, to planting a new Northern Forest and British international leadership on the environment. Large numbers of enthusiastic Conservative activists of all ages and backgrounds, and from all parts of the country, attended and voiced their support for continued conservative environmental leadership. The environment is a huge political opportunity for Conservatives. It is a unifying issue that could bring the conservative movement, and indeed the country, together post-Brexit. Moreover, as a result of the climate policies adopted by Labour at its conference, there is now the political space for conservatives to win. Labour has proposed sweeping renationalisation of much of the energy sector and a 2030 net zero target. A 2030 net zero target is unfeasible and ignores the advice of the independent experts on the Committee on Climate Change, while nationalisation would deter additional private-sector investment in our already world-leading clean energy sectors such as offshore wind and increase the cost of net zero for consumers by increasing risk for investors and reducing competition.
Conservative Home 13th Oct 2019 read more »