The new UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced recently, during his first visit to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in London, that the UK central government is aiming at cutting their emissions of CO2 by 10% in the next 12 months and he wants the government departments to do the same. In fact, government department headquarters will publish online in real time their energy use so that the public can hold ministers and civil servants to account for their carbon footprint. “I want us to be the greenest government ever”, Cameron told DECC.
This is very good news, considering only the day before an article in the New York Times online pointed out the ‘doubts’ about global warming among the British. The article suggested nowhere has a shift in public opinion been more striking than in Britain with regard to global warming and climate change, mentioning report of a decrease from 41% to 26% in public belief that climate change is happening. This shift is most probably due to last year's episode of leaked emails of East Anglia University climate researchers; and later the discovery of an inaccuracy in data interpretation in the IPCC 2007 report. It appears the British government is not as sceptical as the general public. On the contrary, the PM said he's passionate about the climate change agenda and wants to drive a green economy and green growth.
As suggested by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former US Vice-President Al Gore in an article published in the Financial Times last year, investing in the green economy rather than being an optional expense, is a smart investment for a more equitable, prosperous future. (See my article on this for the CABI Environmental Impact database). It seems the British government is being smart and will save hundreds of millions of pounds, by cutting the government's energy bills, it is predicted. Let’s also hope that now the government found a green way of making money to reduce the huge deficit in the economy, they won’t take money from us, through taxation or take away benefits, such as child tax credit.
The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, said "the benefits of a low carbon economy are agreed between both coalition parties, this is a priority agenda common to both manifestos". "I intend to make decisions put off for too long to fundamentally change how we supply and use energy in Britain … to give the power industry the confidence it needs to invest in low carbon energy projects." It seems like if you mix ‘blue with yellow’ you will really get ‘green’, someone pointed out.
An Energy Bill was announced in the Queen's speech on 25 May, which says: 'legislation will be introduced to improve energy efficiency in British homes and businesses, to promote low carbon energy production, and to secure our energy supplies. The Bill is to provide a step change in the provision of energy efficiency measures to homes and businesses, and to put in place a framework to deliver a future with secure, low carbon energy supplies and fair competition in the energy markets.' Being an optimist, I think this is a step in the right direction.