When it comes to climate change and environmental protection, the Conservative party is often seen as having a big green dividing line down its middle, with the deniers at one side and the green Tories on the other.
Tensions between the two intensified recently, after a report claimed the Conservatives had delayed strong and coherent responses to climate change.
The report, from a coalition of campaign groups including Greenpeace, WWF, RSPB and Friends of the Earth, said that despite David Cameron’s assertions that he would do everything in his power to protect the planet since coming into office in 2010, the Conservatives had delayed decarbonisation targets and encouraged the controversial process of extracting shale gas through fracking. In addition, some of the party’s own ministers have publicly questioned the science of climate change.
Seemingly leading the Tories on the non-green side is the chancellor George Osborne, who once described greens as an “environmental Taliban”. He also formed one quarter of Blue & Green Tomorrow’s four horsemen of the climate apocalypse.
In a speech at the party’s 2011 conference, standing at a podium bearing the words “Leadership for a better future”, Osborne said,“We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”. His comments were subsequently described by one journalist as “pitiful”.
To Osborne’s credit, he did say that we should invest in greener energy. But in an attempt to justify a slow but profitable transition to green energy, he added, “Britain makes up less than 2% of the world’s carbon emissions to China and America’s 40%.”
His preference for profit over the planet has been apparent in recent months through his tax breaks for fracking. His announcement of those plans certainly contained a discursive narrative of the economic global race; his aim being to make Britain the “leader of the shale gas revolution”.
But would people want fracking to take place right on their doorstep? Apparently not.
The protests in Balcombe have certainly confirmed that, and Osborne’s father-in-law, Lord Howell, caused some embarrassment when he said that fracking should take place in the “desolate north”.
The problem with fracking is that we know very little about the processes, the risks and the consequences. Residents in Balcombe are justified in their concerns. There is evidence to suggest the process does cause tremors and could indeed pollute water and soil, and a lot more research is needed in order to fully quantify the extent to both.
However, on the other side of the green dividing line in the party, we have those Tories who accept that we have to act, and act quickly, if we are going to make serious progress on the environment.
Former shadow secretary of state for the environment Peter Ainsworth recently told Blue & Green Tomorrow that the need to protect our environment was embedded deep at the heart of Conservative values.
“Conservatism is about conserving, protecting, looking after, nurturing and being responsible”, he said.
“It’s utterly and deeply embedded in my sense of what conservatism is about. You only have to remind people of that and they get it.”
Ainsworth stressed that climate change is “not there to be believed in or not”, adding that policy should be based on rational evidence supported by the science.
These comments do, as Ainsworth points out, chime harmoniously with traditional Burkean conservatism – a view perhaps shared by Independent editor and London Evening Standard columnist Amol Rajan, who said in a March article, “The true conservative sees his relationship with the Earth not as one of ownership and exploitation but temporary custodianship.”
Margaret Thatcher knew this when she became one of the first world leaders to speak out about climate change in the late 80s. And the likes of Stanley Johnson, father of mayor of London Boris, have also displayed a deep-seated respect for the environment, stretching back to the 70s and beyond.
Despite the clear rift in the party, the campaigner alliance’s report sings the praises of certain Conservative politicians, including Cameron, energy secretary Greg Barker and foreign secretary William Hague, each of whom have strongly advocated at some point the need for international co-operation on climate change, biodiversity loss and the protection of endangered species. We would add Zac Goldsmith, perhaps the greenest-minded serving Tory MP, to that list.
Nevertheless, the UK was criticised by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) in July, whose report revealed the UK was set to miss its renewables targets.
The deniers are providing no support in reaching these targets. Infighting and politicking over wind farms is not helpful.
In order to regain control of his party and win over the hearts and minds of the environmentally responsible citizen before the next general election, Cameron has a long way to go to keep momentum on issues that are so crucial to the basic principles of conservatism, not to mention the planet itself.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.