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 133.

    Cameron plans to let the planning system distroy more wildlife why? all that was ever wanted was to tell developers that you cannot destroy wildlife you must build so that wildlife and habitat is preserved before after and during.Urban noise and light is now a key destroyer of wildlife.so why are there so many street lamps on in the small hours? so why build on green belt playing fields and parks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    "Greenest Government ever"? What a load of old rubbish! It's a good slogan but it's completely meaningless. Typical politician-speak.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    We have a Chancellor who has absolutely no understanding about climate, the earth system and ecology! He is only interested in supporting his rich friends....whilst the rest of us suffer

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    "Greenest Government"... Pure Spin!

    The governments obsession with increasing distance commuting and business travel and new privatised roads is quite contrary to the Green Agenda, Carbon Reduction and Localism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    It is a pointless exercise stealing cash from hard working taxpayers... when the annual reduction in emissions in the whole of Europe is negated in a single day by unregulated emissions from China and India alone"

    This is a "tragedy of the commons" argument. Per capita emissions in the EU are far higher than China and India. Should we stop them gaining our lifestyle?

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Economic growth leads to increased natural resource usage and to increased human population levels. No growth is sustainable indefinitely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    IF Govt had the Money - they could AFFORD to be 'Greener' - Meanwhile:
    Restrict Population increase via Benefit-system / Taxes & immigration.
    STRICTLY enforce Laws for 'Anti-Green' behaviour by Co's AND Individuals.
    MAKE the PUBLIC behave responsibly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Windfarms are built by vocal 'big industry' and solar panels are installed by voiceless 'small industry', so if you were a minority Government who would you be friends with?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    How can this lot be Green when they have an idiot in the Government saying to increase the SPEED limit to 80 MPH on the Motorways.--- This if she cannot work it out USES MORE fuel AND increases the Polution even MORE than it is NOW.because it uses MORE fuel.------ "O" Yes it WILL give them MORE tax on the Fuel

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    The single most contributing factor to the growth of Co2 levels in this country was moving new car registrations to 6 monthly from a year. Why that was needed in the first place is beyond me. It's put far too many cars on the road. Plus, the UK is a drop in the ocean compared to the US' CO2 output. Not to mention the growth of Brazil as they constantly cut down the rain forrest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I listen to people who are. People like Lindzen, Dyson, Curry, Christie, Carter, Happer, Radhakrishna, Stott"

    And what motivated you to CHOOSE to listen to these but not the majority of mainstream climate scientists, none of whom work for Greenpeace or the WWF either? Several of those names are not cliamte scientists, BTW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    It is a pointless exercise stealing cash from hard working taxpayers in the name of the environment, when the annual reduction in emissions in the whole of Europe is negated in a single day by unregulated emissions from China and India alone. Nothing we here in Britain can do will have any effect on climate change, though it will however reduce the standard of living of the populace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    They say the climate is not totally understood, nor is it a laboratory experiment involving a gas jar of CO2 on a bench."

    And 100% of climate scientists agree with those statements. That is not a good argument that we should ignore those things that are understood or those which are uncertain but likely. Models are flawed but what is a viable alternative?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    @115 Climate change is only a small part of it. The world is running out of resources and there is huge amounts of environmental damage from pollution and deforestation in order to grow economies. We need to be more resource efficient, tackle population growth and most likely change our global economy too. Population growth will probably fall with increased economic development if sustainable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how ungreen the government are. Gas-fired power stations will be as nothing compared to the huge push toward biomass power stations. The big 6 are lobbying for more subsidies to burn wood to provide power. These monsters will not only continue to pollute, but will also lead to a massive increase in deforestation and land grabs the world over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    The Tory election manifesto was a work of fiction designed to get them elected - which of course it failed to do. However if it had been honest about their intentions for the environment, the NHS, benefits etc the scale of the Tories defeat would have been even greater. People, the environment they are all the same thing. Resources to be exploited to make money for the priviledged few.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    111 Cjay. Agree they are noisy, ugly. The farmer get £12,000 per yr for each turbine, company gets compensation when they are stopped dut to too windy!! People here voted against Labour still went ahead. What would help drastically would be population control. fam allowance for max 2 kids. Tax any others.No more building projects housing causes flooding, pushes it to areas that would not normally

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    I think Cameron is living up to his pledge, we just misinterpreted what he meant by "greenest government ever". He wasn't talking about the environment. He was talking "green" as in the colour of greed. Screw the poor. Screw the disabled. Screw the environment. More money for fat cats and big business, and when we need oxygen masks just to go outside I'm sure he'll find a way of taxing them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    @61. charlieclutz
    Hi Charlie,
    Allow me to explain. I`m not a scientist, but I listen to people who are. People like Lindzen, Dyson, Curry, Christie, Carter, Happer, Radhakrishna, Stott. All eminent Proffessors, not graduates working for Greenpeace or the WWF.

    They say the climate is not totally understood, nor is it a laboratory experiment involving a gas jar of CO2 on a bench.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Wind farms put £70 0n your electricity bill, and do not work at speeds of less than 10mph and shut down at speeds of 25mph.
    they are only 30% efficient and that is a fact BBC.


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