George Osborne: The Treasury should lead the fight against climate change

Alistair Darling has not given a major green speech for two years

Share
Related Topics

This week, I'm one of four Conservative Shadow Cabinet ministers making speeches on climate change, talking about how we will take action to cut emissions and green our economy. This unprecedented series of speeches is a powerful demonstration that our commitment to the environment is as strong as ever.

It's significant that a Shadow Chancellor should be part of this. For, quite frankly, the Treasury has often been at best indifferent, and at worst obstructive. Alistair Darling has not given a major speech on the environment for two years. All this has got to change. Instead of the Treasury blocking green reform, I want a Conservative Treasury to lead the development of the low carbon economy and finance a green recovery. Let me explain how.

First, a Conservative Treasury will help the government to lead by example. For all Labour's fine rhetoric and mass of initiatives, the government's carbon emissions are higher today than they were in 1997. Despite Labour's target of cutting emissions by 12.5 per cent by 2010-11, the latest Sustainable Development Commission report found the total carbon emissions from central government departments have actually increased by 8 per cent since 1999. It's no good ministers telling the public what to do when they can't even get their own house in order.

Some of Britain's most successful companies have shown that it is possible to cut emissions and cut costs. I visited a B&Q store yesterday, and learned about how that company has cut their emissions by 10 per cent in recent years, and plans to go even further next year. We will follow their example by requiring government departments to cut their emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months of the election. And if any department needs encouraging to take action, a Conservative Treasury will simply give them less money to spend on energy bills. This isn't just good for the environment. It will save up to £300m a year. That's good for taxpayers too.

The second way that a Conservative Treasury will drive green growth is by financing a green recovery. The global market for green goods and technologies is worth trillions of dollars a year, but with less than a 5 per cent share of that market, Britain is failing to take advantage. In fact, we have a smaller share of the green market than France, Germany, Japan and the United States. This has got to change. That's why last year, I proposed the creation of the world's first green trading market, which would attract new investment from across the world. Thanks to the work of the London Stock Exchange, that market is now up and running, and almost a hundred companies have signed up.

But a Conservative Treasury can go even further. A recent survey by the Renewable Energy Association found that more than three quarters of Britain's green energy companies are now facing severe difficulties in accessing loans and investment. So in the coming months, we will be looking at how a Green Investment Bank can help kickstart our green recovery by providing green companies with the investment they need. This will help us deliver the green finance we need for new jobs in every region of the country.

The third role for a Conservative Treasury is being part of the answer to our environmental problems, instead of being treated as the problem. Take recycling, for example. Labour's approach has been to threaten families with bin taxes and taking away their bin collection. That hasn't worked: our recycling rates are still among the lowest in Europe. I've proposed a completely different approach, and you can see it in action in Conservative-run Windsor and Maidenhead, where we are paying the public to recycle. The result? Recycling rates have increased by 30 per cent, and the average family is on course to be £130 a year better off. In the years ahead, we want to encourage more councils to try this approach. But we can go further.

I believe that that the public is looking for a way to invest in the green recovery. So we will introduce new Green ISAs, a new tax-free savings product in which all the funds invested would help green our economy. This will not only unleash new sources of finance for green firms, but will give everyone a chance to be an investor in our low carbon future. That's the right way to green our economy and help families to save for the future.

Under a Conservative government, the Treasury will no longer be the cuckoo in the Whitehall nest when it comes to climate change. If I become Chancellor, the Treasury will become a green ally, not a foe.



George Osborne is Shadow Chancellor

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV & HGV Mechanics

£29000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV Mechanics & HGV mechani...

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher

£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Anti-fracking activists near a proposed site at Westby, near Blackpool  

10 things you need to know about fracking – the case against

Donna Hume
 

How to really be a YouTube star: Be white and wealthy

Olly Lennard
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee