"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Monday, 15 February 2010

A New Economic Model: Part 9

A New Economic Model: Eight Benchmarks for Britain.

This is my analysis of George Osborne's economic policy should the Conservatives win the next election.

8 Build a greener economy

Climate change worries all the major political parties and the Labour government has an excellent record in this area introducing the Climate Change Bill in 2008. The Labour party is committed to addressing climate change, the Conservative party, however, is divided with grandees like Lord Lawson and Peter Lilley, and senior members like David Davis denying that climate change has any human cause. Indeed, a survey by ConservativeHome shows that Conservative parliamentary candidates put climate change at the bottom of their list of priorities. Osborne knows that green policies have very little support in his party and that they are unlikely to be passed by a future Conservative government, so any policies that are presented to the public are merely for the purpose of the election.

The details:

"We will reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions and increase our share of global markets for low carbon technologies."

Laudable, but unlikely to occur with the current sceptical Conservative party. Where are the figures for a real benchmark? What are these low carbon technologies and who will provide the investment? (Remember that Osborne will cut the stimulus package.)

"We will create Britain's first Green Investment Bank, which will draw together money currently divided across existing government initiatives, leverage private sector capital to finance new green technology start-ups and back the bright ideas of the future. Lord Stern has agreed to advise us in the creation of this Bank."

Lord Stern has said that he will not be an advisor for the Conservatives. It is worrying that the Conservatives could get something like this so wrong. Don't they fact check their documents?

"We will safeguard Britain's energy security and reduce our exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices by ensuring that we have a diverse range of electricity generating capacity and a resilient energy infrastructure."

The Labour government is already doing this.

The government has already pledged to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. The country currently has a generation capacity of 75GW. In January the government announced the third round of offshore wind farms which will cost £100 billion and will generate 25GW (this is in addition to the already 8GW of capacity already being built). The Conservatives are simply saying "we will do what they are doing". Policy plagiarism. The other pledges are similar to the Labour government's pledges. In addition:

"We will increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, but any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed to change behaviour will be used to reduce the burden of taxation elsewhere."

This is a pledge on green taxes, which will not please the majority of Conservatives.

In effect, this "benchmark" is either parroting the Labour government's position, or it is providing platitudes that are unobtainable should the Conservative party have a majority of MPs in Parliament, since those MPs will be extremely sceptic about climate change. George Osborne knows this, he knows that such policy would be impossible under a Conservative government and yet he is still making it a "benchmark". A "benchmark" that he is guaranteed to fail. It is no wonder that he does not promise to resign if he fails to achieve this "benchmark".

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