Greg Clark: You Ask The Questions

The Tory spokesman on Energy and Climate Change answers your questions, such as 'Are you a red, green, or blue Tory?' and 'Why don't you get a windmill?'


Don't the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia show that dissent on climate change is crushed whenever it appears? STACEY PURNELL, BRIGHTON



Science should always be sceptical. Questioning theories by subjecting them to rigorous testing is the foundation of scientific method – it's how our body of knowledge was built. The revelations at the University of East Anglia are deeply concerning, but our knowledge of climate change doesn't hang on this set of emails, but on the work of thousands of different scientists, pursuing many separate lines of inquiry over many years.

Good climate change policy is all about taking those actions that protect against unacceptable risks, while delivering additional benefits – such as energy security and economic opportunity – whatever happens to the climate.



The main consequence of environmentalism entering the mainstream has been the resurrection of imperialism: people like you telling the poor world not to develop. Why? MARTIN HOFSTADER, BERLIN

Actually, I think environmentalism and climate change agreements have the potential to help the world's poorest immeasurably. Even assuming the most optimistic development pathways, the world's poorest people make, and will make, very little contribution to the problem. However, they are disproportionately vulnerable to the consequences and have every interest in a meaningful global deal. The global deal that I would like to see would protect the developing world from climate change, but not exclude them from development.

Indeed, for the emerging industrial giants like China, a global deal may be an opportunity to develop, rather than a hindrance to development. The transition away from fossil fuels would provide huge opportunities for manufacturing exports – which is one reason why the Chinese are playing an increasingly constructive role in international negotiations.

How will pricing poor people out of the sky help win public support for action against climate change? CASSANDRA MORGAN, CARDIFF

It wouldn't, which is why it isn't our policy. We believe that it's important to offer an efficient and clean high-speed rail alternative, so as to reduce the need to travel by air within the UK and much of Europe. This rail network would make a third runway at Heathrow unnecessary, reducing pollution and congestion.



If Kyoto wasn't a success, why will Copenhagen be? GREGORY SAMUEL, SHEPTON MALLET

Because the problem is more pressing, the technological solutions are more advanced, the Chinese and Americans are more willing and fossil fuels are more expensive.



If Liz Truss should have told her local association and Cameron about her affair, should Zac Goldsmith have done the same about his non-dom status? NEIL UPTON-FARR, LONDON

The relevant body is his electorate, and he has told them that he is now, and will continue to be, a full UK taxpayer.



Are you more embarrassed by Zac Goldsmith's tax arrangements than those of Lord Ashcroft? OSCAR WRIGHT, Taunton

See above for my answer on Zac Goldsmith. I have no knowledge of Lord Ashcroft's tax bill, so it's hard to see how I can fairly comment on it.



Was your inheritance-tax policy dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton? Is it going to land you in an Eton mess? (Or will class warfare damage Labour?) JANINE PICKERING, DERBY

I believe our leaders should try always to unite, rather than divide – to strengthen the country rather than introduce tensions. So it's a shame that creating "dividing lines" and "class war" seems to be Labour's intended strategy. I don't think it's what people hope for from their Government and it's likely to damage Labour's standing. Inheritance tax sends a message about the value of saving – which we need more of. We believe that only millionaires should pay inheritance tax.



Isn't it funny that Zac Goldsmith – expelled from Eton but that's OK because daddy left him hundreds of millions – is a non-dom? You couldn't make it up! ROBERT MORGANm LONDON

My answers to Neil and Janine's questions above cover both points.



How do you reconcile your policy on the budget deficit with a tax break for millionaires? MARTINA SIMMm GLASGOW

It precisely isn't a tax break for millionaires – they will continue to pay inheritance tax under our plans. It doesn't add a penny to the deficit – it's a tax switch rather than a tax cut: wealthy non-doms will pay a new levy, the proceeds of which will be used to lift people with smaller estates out of inheritance tax. Bear in mind it's not just the super-rich who pay inheritance tax – anyone with a house worth more than £325,000 is at risk of paying it.

It is the Conservatives who have consistently been straight with people about the scale of the debt crisis and the need to take action to tackle the deficit. We have set out some of the tough choices we would make, such as a one-year public sector pay freeze for those earning over £18,000, and bringing forward the planned increase in the state pension age.



The Lib Dems' policy of taking low-earners out of income tax will cost money upfront, but is progressive, creates incentives to work, and saves money in the long term by cutting benefits. Why is it not Tory policy? If it were, I'd vote for you. MARY HODGSON, ANDOVER

I have a lot of sympathy for reducing taxes on the low-earners. But according to figures from the Treasury, there's a £5.5bn gap in the Lib Dems' sums. At a time when we have the largest budget deficit in the developed world, it's irresponsible to produce proposals that risk misleading the public. We're in favour of lower taxes, and our priority will be to keep people working by trying to reverse the rise in National Insurance – a tax on jobs – that Labour have announced.



Do you believe in God? If so, why is He allowing climate change to happen? PREMJEET SAHAL, LEICESTER

I do. And I believe he gave us the free will and the ability to overcome this and many other challenges.



I s George Osborne embarrassed that Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond were appointed to give your party economic credibility? AMANDA WYNNE-THOMSON, READING

Well, we could always follow Labour's example and leave economic policy in the grip of just one man. But we're guessing the country's had enough of that.



Why are there so many Gregs in the Tory ranks (Hands, Barker, Clark, etc)? GREGORY ARMSTRONG, NORWICH

There were 16 Popes called Gregory, so I don't think we've exceeded our quota quite yet. But we'll keep a watch on the situation. Still room for another one if you want to come on board, Gregory...



Are you a red Tory, a green Tory, or a blue Tory? MATTHEW SCOTT London

The purest light comes from a balanced spectrum.



Why hasn't your house got a windmill on it, like Cameron's? SARAH GRIMWOOD, Brighton

Because it wouldn't recoup the cost. But there are things that can be done that save CO2 and save money. We have some of the worst homes – in terms of energy efficiency – in Europe. Improving them cuts fuel bills, but needs upfront capital that many people simply don't have.

That's why our Green Deal would give every household in the country an immediate entitlement to up to £6,500 of energy-efficiency improvements, to be paid for out of some of the savings people make on their bills over time. This shouldn't be party political – I genuinely don't understand why the Government refuses to include energy efficiency in the Energy Bill that comes before Parliament today. If they did, I would help get it into law as soon as possible. Perhaps it's an application of that "dividing lines" strategy – if we're in favour of something, they must be against it. That's the wrong politics for the environment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea