Big Government environmentalism hasn’t worked. But David Cameron’s market-driven solutions will be effective in saving the planet, write Ben Caldecott and Gavin Dick.
By Ben Caldecott and Gavin Dick
Published: 6:07AM GMT 10 Mar 2010
Left-wingers have colonised green politics for decades. Despite having the best of intentions, their policies failed and the environmental threats we now face are too serious to be left to them. That’s why David Cameron’s greening of the Conservative Party is so welcome.
Some claim that the party’s focus on the environment is a recent conversion. In fact, it is a homecoming. The Tories have a long and proud history of environmental preservation. Benjamin Disraeli, just like Mr Cameron, reasoned that Conservatives were natural stewards of the environment, keen to conserve its vitality and pass its benefits and beauty on to future generations. He faced grumbles from some and protest from others, but pressed on, confident that prioritising the environment was not just good for his party, but good for Britain.
It was Disraeli’s government that put the River Pollution Prevention Act into law in 1876, to prevent the dumping of raw sewage into Britain’s rivers. It proved seminal, influencing environmental legislation well into the 20th century. Likewise, it was a Conservative government that rid London of pea-soup smog with the Clean Air Act. It was the Tories who introduced the green belt across England to preserve our countryside in the 1950s. And it was Margaret Thatcher who was the first international leader to speak to the UN General Assembly on the dangers of climate change. She argued that we are “the trustees of this planet, charged today with preserving life itself – preserving life with all its mystery and all its wonder”.
Conservatives understand why it is important to conserve, to live within our means and not run up a vast debt – be it financial or ecological, to pass on to future generations. They have also always understood the importance of security. Today, climate instability, the break-down of ecosystems, population movement and resource conflict all pose serious threats to the safety of Britain’s people, our Armed Forces and our economy.
That is why the Conservative Environment Network, which launches today, has been formed. We are determined to support the current environmental leadership the Conservative Party is showing and to make the case to other Conservatives who may not recognise our Party’s proud environmental heritage.
The public has had enough of Left’s preference for tax, regulation, government interference and penalties. But there is the positive agenda – of socially empowering and market-driven solutions – that Mr Cameron’s 21st-century green conservatism can advocate. In a world of emptying oceans, disappearing forests, depleting aquifers, eroding soils, a warming atmosphere and an ever-increasing human population, the stakes are too high to ignore.
Ben Caldecott and Gavin Dick are among the founders of the Conservative Environment Network
Published in the Telegraph: