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UK's Labour party accuses chancellor of 'contempt' for green policy

UK's Labour party accuses chancellor of 'contempt' for green policy

Posting in Energy

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint has accused the chancellor of the exchequer of 'reviling in contempt' for environmental policy.

The UK's labour party have accused the chancellor of the exchequer of "actively revelling in contempt for environmental protection", in the latest row over changes in environmental policy within the UK.

After being told he will face charges of perverting the course of justice due to claims his wife accepted speeding penalty points in his place, the former energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne resigned last Friday. Liberal Democrat Ed Davey has now taken his place -- becoming a catalyst for the latest environmental policy storm.

The shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint says chancellor George Osborne believes that a 'green agenda' is bad for business, jobs and economic growth. Therefore, "environmental policies are a luxury that can only ever be afforded when times are good."

In contrast to this, Flint believes that focusing on green industries will instead become a way to boost a failing economy, and potentially promote economic growth through job creation -- something that the UK is desperately lacking:

"Investing in the green economy is not just a route out of recession, but a necessary and urgent adaptation to the economy and society we will need in the decades ahead. This is not a journey of economic altruism, but a battle for economic survival."

Spending is the focal point of the simmering argument. Whereas some members of parliament view changes as too costly and a burden on an economy that is reported to be on the brink of a double-dip recession, others are lobbying for changes deemed necessary and rapidly becoming more urgent to protect both business and industry in the future.

The successor to the energy secretary throne is already in the midst of a storm, concerning windfarm subsidies in the UK totaling £400 million ($632 million USD). Over a hundred Tory MPs are demanding vicious cuts to the current government subsidies for windfarms -- where Tories view them as expensive and inefficient, the Liberal Democrats wish to build 4,500 extra turbines in order to cut carbon emissions.

The changes to energy production may be too much for businesses already struggling to cope, and consumers may face rising energy costs in households that already reflect a tightening of public spending and the rising cost of living.

Flint argues that changes must be made now, and the government should not try and wait out the storm of the recession:

"The longer we delay action, the costlier mitigating and adapting to climate change will become - and the economic opportunities will slip through our fingers."

Considering the coalition government originally pledged to be the 'greenest government ever', this row is unlikely to subside in the near future.

Image credit: Lib Dems

(via: The Guardian)

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure