Daily Archives: 9 December 2005

Turquoise Tories

So, Davey boy is determined to beef up the Tories’ green credentials and has put new recruit Zac on the working group that’s going to do this.

As I suggested earlier, this is good news for greens and concerning news for the Lib Dems. It’s good, because it puts green thinking more into the political mainstream; it’s problematic for the Lib Dems because they’ve tended to capitalise on being the most green mainstream party for some time now and must now raise their game.

The proof will be in the pudding of course, Cameron’s article suggests that he can only tolerate the idea of adopting environmental policies when they don’t damage economic growth. Tim Worstall is correct to say that this is a false dichotomy. Where I suspect I would disagree with Tim however is that he appears to believe in the charming notion that markets will simply sort themselves out, with responsible free marketeers being able to calculate the exact point where a natural resource is about to run out and instantly change behaviour accordingly. Of course nobody is going out of their way to cause the environment irrevocal harm, but when you are making millions out of milking a particular cash cow it is all too tempting to imagine that another cow will come along as soon as the current one is spent (see Edis Bevan).

The fact remains that the market does tend to favour big, technological solutions to the environment as opposed to the idea of simply doing less. Carbon sequestration has very rapidly entered the mainstream, yet simple solutions such as reducing street lighting and improving home insulation continue to struggle to find favour. That isn’t to say that, growth and green measures are by definition contradictory – if we halved the number of street lights or made them more efficient for example, we’d free up resources for other things – it is however to suggest that growth is ceasing to be a particularly useful measure.