Thursday, 29 April 2010

The main parties are spouting greenwash – we are the real deal

There is only one Green party and in this election we can make a difference

Darren Johnson
The Guardian, Thursday 29 April 2010
Your article about eco policy in the election campaign did not mention the Green party's policies (Last chance to save planet, say parties vying for green vote, 26 April). You focused on the two parties who'd launched their green manifestos the previous day, but comparing only Labour and Lib Dem eco policies was a bit like assessing which of two bald men was the best advert for a comb.
The article describes the Lib Dems' "£400 eco cashback scheme for new double glazing, boilers or solar panels". Had you compared this with the Green party's manifesto, you would have discovered that to meet the right CO2 targets, we need a £4bn-a-year programme to ensure all UK homes are energy-efficient. Similarly, the Lib Dems' "pledge to redirect £3.1bn" to green job-creation; but we believe that to achieve the necessary emissions reductions the UK would need a £44bn investment package, creating over a million green jobs.
And the article did not consider the parties' track record: for example, while the Lib Dems say they want more renewable energy, they have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire. You say the Lib Dems would tackle aviation emissions, but don't point out that they've avidly supported airport expansions in Birmingham, Carlisle, Exeter, Liverpool, Manchester and Norwich.
And on their proposed fiscal measures to reduce road traffic, you don't say that they have voted against such schemes in Edinburgh, Manchester and York; not to mention that they've supported new road-building, from Newbury to the M74 and the proposed new Lancaster bypass.
You note that the Lib Dems say they want a zero-carbon economy by 2050. It would have been reasonable to observe that even if the Lib Dems' policies and practice were capable of achieving this, the target is in fact 20 years too late to satisfy the science. Perhaps the most reliable thing Nick Clegg says in the article was this: "Choose the only party that was taking a stand on saving the planet well before it became fashionable." On behalf of the Green party I'd like to say: thank you, Nick.
Meanwhile, what of Labour? Yes, it passed the Climate Change Act; yet it has attached to it the wrong targets and the wrong policies. But as you reveal, Labour is weaker than the Lib Dems on aviation, road-building, coal and nuclear. And Labour wants just 5,000 eco trade apprenticeships, whereas the Green party has identified a need for 350,000 training places.
On a proper comparison, one would surely have to conclude that there is still only one Green party. And this time, in places like Brighton, Norwich and Lewisham, the Greens are in with a real chance of a breakthrough, according to pollsters YouGov and ICM. If even a few Greens are elected they will be influential – able to cut through Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative greenwash in the House of Commons and force the debate to get real.