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 33.

    NO government is, or has been living up to any green credentials. We know what's coming, but in keeping with human nature we will wait until we have irrefutable proof of it happening all around us before we act. Jolly well done for 'protecting' the economy until that point, which of course will be too late to actually save any of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    @25. Total Mass Retain

    Of course the laws of physics are not wrong, but basing an entire hypothesis on ONE of them is ludicrous and illogical.
    3-6`C warming will not happen without positive feedback from water vapour and the evidence is pointing to negative.
    Another 1`C is more likely by 2100.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    This government is everything BUT green. In Bicester they are forcing through a 5,000 house "Eco-town" on green farmland without any public consultation or input. Meanwhile the MOD has been refused permission to build houses on a local brownfield site. They care little, if at all, for the countryside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The greenest government ever, then they turn round and start building unneccessary rail lines, roads, olympic stadiums, plans for entire new towns, I fail to see where green comes anywhere near. You cannot have a green environment and still preach constant growth. We have to get over this expansion nonsense and start a realistic approach to a sustainable population before we do anything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    This "government" has never been green since it's inception - I hope it is destroyed before any of it's anti green policies are forced on us.

    Otherwise it is going from bad to worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Of course it isn't green! A green government would have stopped the stupendous damage to the environment that will be caused by millions traveling to and from the Olympics, for example. Or would stop squandering energy on the armed forces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    All this green C R A P is about raising another tax stream time to abandon all this hogwash and find ways to make energy as cheaply as possible. If that means more coal then great dig up our own and get some new jobs to boot. Green taxes are still taxes and not 1 penny of the revenue will go to saving the planet. Wake up and smell the coffee and put an end to this madness now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I don't live in the UK, but we have enough environmental problems here in Australia ahhahaha ahhahaha hohoho!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    the world has finally woken up to CO2 drivel and hogwash."

    So, the laws of physics are wrong, then, are they? They must be if the increase of 40% of a proven heat retaining agent in 150 years caused by industrialisation is not, well, retaining heat as the laws of physics say it must.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    If there were money in it for his Tory friends he would be sticking to his election promises obviously his business associates and friends have not ventured into this market yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    19.ThankyouandGoodbye - "The reality of the situation, whether you good people like it or not, is that the world has finally woken up to CO2 drivel and hogwash....."

    An interesting alternative universe you appear to live in.........yes many doubt man made GW, but most do not......

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The real balancing trick with an oil-dependant civilisation is to reduce dependency on that oil, whilst at the same time kick-starting a shattered economy that ultimately depends on it.

    It appears to me that, at present, getting the workforce back to work is likely to produce more pollution until the increased tax-take allows funding of less polluting alternatives to our current lifestyles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    My concern is that this government thinks it can build its way out of the economic situation. Small island. Cannot build forever. When we live in a concrete jungle it will be too late. Badger culling: how responsible are farmers insofar as moving cattle around are concerned? A few months after being clear of TB they bring in another anima and suddenly TB is back.

    No environment - no people..

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    So, attacks on recycling, slashing support for renewable energy, pushing up fares on public transport, trying to sell off our forests, weakening protection of green belt, the list goes on and on...

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The reality of the situation, whether you good people like it or not, is that the world has finally woken up to CO2 drivel and hogwash.
    China, Russia, USA, Brazil, India, Canada, I could go on, do not believe the climate is understood well enough to risk trashing every nations economy.
    Being "green" means caring for the environment, but not by killing millions by raising food and fuel prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Too much emphasis placed on the environment and too little on jobs and international competitiveness.

    Most people are highly skeptical of the claims of environmentalists and most people think this and previous governments have used the environmental banner simply to dress up tax increases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I don't know about being the greenest government, it certainly is the worst government in my memory - and I'm getting on a bit in years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This government, a product of our dysfunctional democracy, does not even have empathy for the people it governs let alone the environment. Corporate interest call the shots and these "say anything to keep the plebes quiet" politicians will sculpt environmental policy according to the dictates of their corporate masters. A bankrupted economy and a poisoned planet is already the reality. Wake UP

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Of course it's not the greenest! This is a slogan government and a lightweight PM - the lightest yet. They say anything to get a vote and do anything to keep their rich backers in the money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I had so hoped the Govt, as the Opposition, were genuine about being the greenest ever, but alas, more broken promises that make New Labour's predeliction for spin seem like a few harmless porkies in comparison.....

    13.MonroviaGunner - there are no cost cutting alternatives, just less polluting alternatives that cost a similar amount.....energy is expensive.....


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