Just 2% believe coalition is 'greenest government', survey suggests

David Cameron on glacier with dogs Mr Cameron famously went to a glacier early in his tenure - but have his green credentials melted?

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Just 2% of the UK public believe they live under the "greenest government ever", according to an opinion poll.

And only 4% want to see laws protecting the countryside weakened, as the government is expected to do this week.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to lead the "greenest government ever" on taking office in 2010.

Critics say that recent decisions on climate change, forests, badger culling, urban pollution and nature protection have undermined the claim.

But a government spokesman said it was "firmly committed" to being the greenest government ever and wanted to be judged on actions.

Environmental groups are particularly highlighting an announcement made on Saturday that will allow gas-fired power stations to continue emitting carbon dioxide at their current rate until 2045.

The poll, commissioned by Greenpeace and the RSPB from YouGov, shows that 53% of the UK electorate believes the government is about average on green issues, while 10% say it is greener than average.

Only 3% of Conservative voters say it lives up to the "greenest ever" tag. The figure for Lib Dems is 0%.

Prime Minister David Cameron held a photo-opportunity with huskies on a glacier in 2006, when he described climate change as "one of the biggest threats facing the world" and called for "a much greater sense of urgency" in tackling it.

But Greenpeace's chief policy adviser Ruth Davis said the poll showed the British public "can't be duped by catchphrases or husky-hugging".

"However, it's not too late for David Cameron to turn this around and leave an environmental legacy he can be proud of," she said.

"He can start by reining in his chancellor, who seems hell-bent on trashing the environment."

'Sums wrong'

Start Quote

The Budget this week has the potential to be a 'Black Wednesday' for the environment”

End Quote Mike Clarke RSPB

In December, Chancellor George Osborne told MPs he wanted to make sure that "gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats" were not putting "ridiculous costs" on firms.

The government is expected to publish new rules on planning this week, which will make it easier for developers to exploit green spaces and important ecological areas.

The poll showed that only 4% of the electorate backs these planning moves - but 40% would like protection strengthened.

RSPB chief executive Mike Clarke said the chancellor had got his economic sums wrong.

"There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest protection of the environment is a barrier to economic growth, but plenty to suggest smart regulation is actually a stimulus to growth," he said.

"Because of this lack of understanding, the Budget this week has the potential to be a 'Black Wednesday' for the environment."

Gas and carbon

Mr Osborne is also being slated by environment groups over an announcement made jointly by the Treasury and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) on Saturday.

It will allow gas-fired power stations to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as they do now until 2045.

Mr Osborne said the move "provides certainty to businesses that want to invest in gas".

However, the Committee on Climate Change, the government's statutory advisers, say that in order to meet long-term climate targets, the electricity generating sector should be "virtually decarbonised" by 2030.

That would mean a mixture of renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuel power stations that capture and store the carbon dioxide they produce.

Analysts say that in order to meet the 2030 target - which Mr Cameron said he "basically endorsed" last year - only about 10% of UK electricity can come from gas-fired power stations emitting at current levels.

If the figure ends up being closer to 50%, which some analysts believe likely, long-term climate targets will be much more difficult to achieve.

In response to the poll results, a government spokesman said: "We are firmly committed to being the greenest government ever and want to be judged on actions.

"We have delivered an ambitious programme of policies to protect and enhance our natural environment, including the first Natural Environment White Paper in 20 years and a Water White Paper to ensure a secure, affordable and sustainable future water supply."

The Green Investment Bank, securing investment in low-carbon energy, and tree-planting were among the other government successes, he said.

YouGov polled 1,738 adults on 13-14 March 2012. The figures were weighted to be representative of all GB adults.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The "green" advocates are not winning anything because they are not living what they claim to believe in. They should complete abandon the use of any technology or gadget that directly or indirectly rely on fuels or processes that ruin the environment. And they should come up with cost-saving alternative sources of energy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The two most significant things the government could do to safeguard our environment are:
    1) Curb population growth & movement (stable populations being more inclined to look after their life support systems).
    2) Redesign the banking system (our current fiat fractional reserve system is unsustainable & drives policy decisions that trash the environment to pay-off exponentially increasing debt).

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.


    Green is often used as a cover for stealth taxes or for pushing inefficient technologies at ever greater cost with no discernible benefits yet to the detriment of our economy.

    Most of us don't want to live in eco-teepees, the challenge is to achieve balance and openness free from pressure groups of all angles (both business and environmental lobbying).

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    This government talks well but does the opposite of what it claims to do. It is not only the Environment that is being trashed. If the money wasted on Nuclear had been spent on wave power etc we would be exporting energy, not importing it.

    As an example of how 'green' they are not. They are widening the A14 instead of building a freight line to get the freight from Felixstow to the Midlands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The start of the 'greenest government ever' saw the wrecking of our planning system and a complete destruction of the UK's sustainability policies. The halving of the feed-in tariffs (and further cuts to come) and cuts to budgets in the public and third sectors will mean less and less resources to implement 'green' policies across the board. This government will destroy this country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Mistah Dave, being green isn't merely about recycling. It's about thinking of what you do in your life and the impact that will have an impact on the environment. Pouring garbage into the atmosphere does not rate as being green at all.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It's good to be green and all and recycle but I don't want it rammed in my face everywhere I go and seeing it all on the news about how the UK isn't the greenest in Europe and this and that. Compared to other countries, we're not that bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    If any private individual made the claims that David Cameron made, and then did what his government have done, they would be convicted of fraud. It really is beneath contempt to have put so much effort into campaigning on these fake green credentials, and then to do so much to set back the environmental agenda.

    If David Cameron had meant anything he said, he wouldn't need to be reminded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Come on ! The Tories have a TERRIBLE track record on the environment. Did people really think they were telling the truth this time during the election ? Are people really that naive and stupid ?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    ...disgraceful EU policy of dumping perfectly edible fish, just because fishing quotas have already been reached.

    Obviously, none of these ideas will be taken up and instead we'll only see investment in companies that politicians friends and families have shares in and all the important things will be 'forgotten' about, as always happens when vested interests get in the way of doing whats right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I think the fact that we are all encouraged to drive around in Eco friendly cars by high fuel bills and taxation by the government, yet they all travel around in luxury Jags and Mercs. Anyone else smell hypocracy??

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    If this govt wants to be 'green' they should tax profits on energy companies and directly invest the money raised in wave and tidal energy, then they should make a law forbidding any new building in the countryside until all brownfield sites have been redeveloped, force water providers to fix all leaks instead of using extra river and ground water, automatically jail all fly-tippers and ban the...


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