Tories' new-found greenness is "skin-deep and somewhat mottled," says Green Party

17 April 2009

The Greens have scrupulously analysed the Conservatives' green paper number 8 on de-carbonising Britain, which was published in January and which forms the basis of current thinking at the top of the Conservative Party, if not necessarily amongst Tory MPs and councillors.

A communique from the Green Party said: "A few of the Tories' new ideas closely mirror pre-existing Green Party policies - except that despite all experience, the Tories have preserved their somewhat naive faith in the market - while some of their ideas are frankly stupid, like building more nuclear power stations.

"Nuclear power is not and never will be green. It can't deliver CO2 reductions as fast as we need them. It does nothing to help the green recovery we urgently need to tackle the recession. Nuclear sustains far fewer jobs per megawatt than renewables, so it will create too few jobs far too late."

The communique continued:

"But the more closely you examine the Tory green paper, the more flaws and shortcomings appear."

"They wholeheartedly back so-called 'clean coal,' even while they admit the technology isn't yet proven and might not even be economical. But anyway, unlike renewables, carbon capture isn't even zero-carbon, and it can't deliver emissions reductions fast enough, because it doesn't yet work. Also it will create far fewer jobs per megawatt than renewables."

"They want high-speed rail links to replace some internal flights, but they won't end the massive tax-breaks that make flying artificially cheap and attractive to consumers."

"They misunderstand the issue of biofuels."

"They speak warmly of offshore wind energy, but references to onshore wind in their green paper are few and potentially hostile."

"They talk about 'internalising externalities,' the hidden costs including the bill for climate damage, but they haven't even begun to
understand what that means."

Flaws and inconsistencies 

A forthcoming Green Party review of Tory policy will say the Conservatives' tenuous grasp of climate change policy and of Green economics has resulted in some blatant inconsistencies in the Conservative approach. For example:

The Tories say: “Our gas dependency is particularly worrying. Gas represents more than a third of our energy mix today, up from 10 per cent in 1970.” Yet elsewhere in the same document they congratulate themselves on bringing about the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. So they themselves, through the privatisation and liberalisation of the UK’s energy industry, helped bring about the situation they now call “worrying.”

The Tories say:  "This new dependence on foreign fossil fuels means that the UK is now more exposed to ... major national security risks" (1) Yet they would have the UK rely to a large extent on imported coal, and of course they’ll also rely on imported uranium for the nuclear industry, the Green critique will say.


More information available from Dr Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, who can be contacted on 0161 225 4863, 07973 736351, or via 020 7561 0282.


1. The reasons they give are: (a) "exposure to terrorist attack on a small number of import facilities" - ironic in view of their
complacency over the much more serious terrorist threat to nuclear installations, say the Greens; and (b) "vulnerability to geo-political rivalry and Russian interruption of supply" - though imported coal and uranium may be subject to similar considerations in future; and (c) "exposure to the effect of international conflict on the supply and price of oil" - although again, similar factors may well affect coal and uranium imports.

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