Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for July 24th, 2007

Chris Huhne Rides Green Wave

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 24th July, 2007

chris-huhne-2.jpgWhen Ming Campbell rang Chris Huhne at the time of his recent Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, to offer him the Environment portfolio, Chris accepted with alacrity. When Ming then went on to say that it really is quite a significant role, whatever some people might think, Chris stopped him in full flow: ‘Ming, I said YES!’ The floods of the past few weeks have underlined the importance of the brief, and as Chris told a gathering of the Connect group in Parliament last night, ‘climate change is THE policy area of our time.’ Moreover, the environment is the one policy area in which the Liberal Democrats score highest in the public consciousness of the three major parties’ policies.

Chris was scathing about David Cameron’s attempt to co-opt the green cause. The Tory leader has no track record whatsoever on green issues, he argued; moreover, the Tories’ interest in the environment is pure rebranding. The Labour government hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory, either, on the domestic front. ‘The government’s response to climate change is incredibly unco-ordinated,’ Chris said. ‘They are still planning to build hundreds of thousands of new homes on flood plains. And they are still planning to increase airport expansion.’

In contrast, he gave credit to the European Union and to international cooperation in dealing with environmental matters. It was EU pressure on Russia to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol — effectively threatening to veto Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation if Putin didn’t — that made that crucial step possible. Similarly, co-ordinated EU action will be vital in the follow-up to Kyoto. Fortunately, as Chris pointed out, in Angela Merkel we have a strong German Chancellor who was formerly Environment Minister and is determined to promote the green agenda.

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