To be fair, David Cameron’s pledge to lead “The Greenest Government Ever” was almost certainly unscripted and off the cuff. Nobody quite knows what it means.
Claiming you want to be ‘the greenest ever’ can either be interpreted literally (i.e. no government anywhere in the world has ever performed better in terms of sustainable development), or against the rather more limited benchmark of performing better than former UK governments.
Whatever David Cameron meant by it, he must have known that he would be held to account on such a pledge. So perhaps it was not unconnected that one of the first things his Government did was to get rid of the Sustainable Development Commission – the one body with the resources and independent stature to do precisely that.
As the Sustainable Development Commission’s Chair until July 2009, this decision incensed me somewhat. But it also encouraged me to follow as closely as possible what the Coalition Government was and wasn’t doing to live up to that pledge over the course of its first year in office.
Then, towards the end of 2010, Friends of the Earth asked me to carry out a detailed assessment of the Coalition Government’s record. We looked at 77 different policies/commitments and came to the depressing conclusion that only on 6 could one say that the Coalition Government had made real progress.
The report was published on the anniversary of the Coalition Government taking up office. Two months later I heard back from Chris Huhne (Secretary of State in DECC) with his side of the story (not the whole Government’s story, by the way). Read my reply.
All I can tell you is that this is a Government that has got a long way to go.
One of the most important elements in demonstrating this Government’s commitment to a sustainable energy future for the UK is its support for renewables – including solar.
Mystifyingly, this is one of the weakest areas of policy that we’ve seen so far. There’s been no real understanding of how best to build a solar industry in the UK, and absolutely no grip at all on how this would contribute to any “growth strategy” that the Government may seek to develop. Read my blogpost on this.