Thursday, 17 November 2011

How green you are...or are you?

David Cameron promised us "the greenest government ever" so I hope his response to the current campaign for the government to abandon the 3p increase in fuel duty next January is more robust than that of the Blair/Brown government in 2000.

We cannot be serious about ameliorating climate change and conserving the earth's scarce resources if we cave in to every squeak of protest when sensible and modest measures to achieve these aims are implemented. I believe Monday's debate in parliament was laced with hyperbolic references to struggling motorists.

Yes, I own a car, and yes, I have noted that not very long ago £10 worth of petrol was enough to half-fill* its tank, then it was £20 and now it is £30. But I don't struggle: I just travel as much as is practical on foot, and by bicycle, bus and train.

And yes, I know that the public transport options are not so conveniently available in more rural areas. The responses we need to develop are not holding fuel prices down, but more car sharing, community buses and, in the long run living closer to our work.

Steve Bradley, chair of the Green Liberal Democrats, points out in Liberator 349: "It is strange indeed that a government that justifies its fiscal policy through the plea that 'we can't leave a burden of debt to the next generation' remains thoroughly indifferent to the prospect of handing countless future generations an inheritance of nuclear waste." The same argument applies to bequeathing them a polluted planet with unnecessarily depleted resources.

So on this issue let's hope the coalition will tough it out.

*"Green" motorists who don't travel very far don't fill their tanks, as that gives unnecessary extra weight to carry around and lowers fuel efficiency. They also use the Environmental Transport Association ( as their rescue service, as the ETA campaigns for green transport solutions rather than adds to the motorist lobby promoted by the AA and RAC. Very green motorists restrict themselves to the "green speed limit" of 55mph but I tend to be a bit self-indulgent and go up to 65mph. the fuel consumption calculator does not indicate much difference.

The recent proposal to raise our motorway speed limit to 80mph is clearly very ungreen. It is to be hoped that the recent dreadful accident on the M5 has scotched that idea.

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