Greenest Government - Never?
The Guardian reported that in a recent yougov poll only 1 in 50 people now believe David Cameron's government is "the greenest ever". More than half felt it was average - 10 % thought it better than average, 9% worse than average while 7% thought it the least green government ever.
It's unlikely that the hardcore 2% will fall much further - but the 7% who see the Cameron administration as the least green government ever might have been higher still if the government's announcement that it will extend the life of "unmitigated" gas - hadn't been released late on a Friday - a classic time for burying news.
The complexities of gas are discussed at length in "The Carbon Brief". In essence they say extending the life of unmitigated gas would not be catastrophic for carbon targets if older plant was only used for back-up for renewables - but if gas is used as an electricity mainstay the UK stands to fall far short of it's carbon targets.
But there's a bigger concern about the broad direction of government policy - described by the shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint as: "pandering to the Tea Party tendency in the Tory Party, - the rump of Tories who either don't believe in climate change or that it's not worth bothering with".
One of the most well know rumps, Lord Lawson, is also a well know propagator of climate myths (and also apparently has powerful business connections with highy polluting elements of the energy industry according to the Guardian's Damian Carrington). His Global Warming Policy Foundation was responsible for the eyecatching "£200 Green Stealth Taxes" headline that have featured so heavily, and incorrectly, in the right wing press
George Osbourn is a big fan of Lord Lawson and, along with William Hague and Micheal Gove sat on the advisory panel of Liam Fox's Atlantic Bridge Organisation - which in turn had ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council - who have a long history of attacking environmental and climate legislation through parliamentary and lobbying channels.
The Chancellor's Father in Law, Lord Howell, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, delivered a panegyric in praise of fracked gas at the 2011 Oslo Energy forum. He's known to have spoken in support of measure to control climate change but a 2008 Daily Telegraph opinion piece quotes his view that "the belief that long term green demands must override short term energy needs is not only misplaced but politically inept".
None of these things are really evidence that George Osbourn is part of the "rump of Tories who don't believe or care enough about climate change" - but it's hard to believe the subject hasn't been raised at his dinner table. Clearly he is close to people and organisations that seem to favour a new dash for gas or be actively promoting climate scepticism. It may be pure coincidence that much of the drive to undermine the Tories green agenda appears to come from the treasury.
It's certainly been effective. The Guardian reported the respected US Pew Investment Group found the UK has fallen from 3rd to 13th in the world green investment league since the coalition took power. It's a worrying thought that there are possibly powerful political forces within the government who don't see tackling climate change as a key objective.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, yet another denialist myth - that warming has stopped, has been scotched by new data.
Only yesterday the Met Office issued a press release announcing updated figures on warming from the Met Office and the UEA's Climatic Research Units. The revised figures incorporate far more data from the Arctic, where warming is strongest and account for inconstancies in the way temperatures were collected historically. The new data set doesn't show more overall warming but it does show that, contrary to the "global warming has stopped" myth - temperatures have continued to rise through the last decade and that 2010 and 2005 are now joint hottest years.
Keeping the lights on is certainly important. All the science say tackling climate change is absolutely essential. According to international analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance the UK can keep the lights on without turning our backs on cutting carbon. The twin reasons cited by a host of predominately right leaning think tanks over the last 6 months are cost and reliability - both arguments are flawed. The real fear is that the collapse of the Prime Minister's high hopes to low realities is that Cameron's government is, far from being driven by genuine economic concerns, falling prey to the same corrosive barrage of misinformation and memes that has paralysed action on climate in the USA.