David Cameron's green agenda is 'spurious,' says Sir Jonathon Porritt

'It's shocking to see how cynical a politician can be,' says leading environmentalist of PM's attitude to climate change

A A A

Sir Jonathon Porritt, the former Green Party chairman, has launched a ferocious attack on the Government, branding its environmental record "disappointing and depressing". Sir Jonathon is scathing about David Cameron, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, and the Liberal Democrats. But he reserves his strongest criticism for George Osborne, the Chancellor.

"The only words I can use to express my feelings about this government are that I have a deep sense of disappointment and depression. The spuriousness of Cameron's short-lived embrace of the green agenda prior to the election – it's shocking to see how cynical a politician can be," he said. Sir Jonathon is a former director of Friends of the Earth and founder director of the Forum for the Future sustainability charity.

"Osborne seems to be implacably hostile. It's baffling to me that most of the language we get from the Chancellor is negative to hostile rather than interested to enthusiastic. I just cannot understand that. There is something deeply disturbing going on in the Osborne brain that he just refuses to embrace the power of the green economy to drive prosperity."

Sir Jonathon has just published The World We Made, a book examining ways to put the planet on a sustainable footing by 2050. His concerns about the Government include coalition spats over issues such as the greening of Britain's electricity supply and environmental levies on energy bills, which raise serious questions over its commitment to low-carbon power.

Sir Jonathon also criticises Mr Paterson, whom it emerged last week has not been briefed on climate change by the Government's chief scientist since taking up his cabinet post 14 months ago.

"He is in every respect so sceptical about the potential impact of climate change that he can't even be bothered to get a proper briefing," Sir Jonathon said.

"There is a deep malaise in the middle of the Conservative Party that has just come to the conclusion that the green economy and the sustainability agenda has no place in their ideological world view and no traction with voters, so end of story."

Sir Jonathon is also withering about the Government's recent deal with France's EDF over the Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset: "The deal with EDF is so bad that... my bet is that this is going to come badly unstuck. I don't think we'll ever see any nuclear reactors built in this country.

"The inability of the Lib Dems to do anything to defend the green agenda has become more and more striking. I'm astonished they think this is something they are going to be able to hold their heads up about in the next election and say, 'Look what we achieved on energy' – including the whole volte face on nuclear, which is staggering," he added.

But Mr Cameron said: "This government has made huge steps forward in terms of environmental policy. We're the first government ever, anywhere, to set up a green investment bank… We've seen huge investments go into renewable energies… I think this has been a very sound government in terms of the environment."

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "Delivering a sustainable energy policy that tackles climate change, keeps the lights on, and helps people keep their bills down is a top priority."

Maria Eagle, Shadow Environment Secretary, said last night: "David Cameron's election call to 'vote blue, go green' because he intended to lead the 'greenest government ever' has been cruelly exposed as nothing more than a dodgy marketing trick from an ex-PR man."

A spokesman for Mr Paterson described at "nonsense" Sir Jonathon's comments about his lack of briefings. "The number of official briefings does not reflect the regular discussions the Secretary of State has had on all areas of his brief," he added.

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all