It is very common for governments to fly the environmental flag to help win over the public. Promises to be better than “the last lot” abound when it comes to green issues, and promises can’t be broken, right?
It often seems, however, that progress in environmental issues can be painfully slow. It could be argued that this is the prevailing opinion purely because often bad news makes for better reading, providing the everyday Brit something to have a jolly good grumble about. And it may just be that steady progress is not necessarily reported, or even that it simply is not possible to implement the necessary changes with any urgency. But is this actually the greenest government ever?
A recent report, approved by 41 NGOs, states that the Coalition government’s record for tackling environmental issues has steadily declined, and that more than a third of its pledges have not being met. These organisations, such as the RSPB, WWF and the RSPCA believe that the current government is falling short when it comes to farm-animal welfare, marine conservation and tackling wildlife decline.
The government’s green credentials were also questioned when David Cameron came under fire for allegedly ordering aides to “get rid of all the green crap” from energy bills. Although Number 10 has said that it does not recognise that such reports are true, it does raise the question as to whether pledges are being implemented. According to the report, 79% of the population believe that the government have not lived up to their pledge to be the greenest government ever.
What of our neighbours on the other side of the pond? Similarly to the Coalition, Obama has also been criticised with regards to environmental issues. It was said that Obama had not done enough to combat climate change in his first term. This has become a focus issue for his second term and it would appear to have become a higher priority.
Hopefully, Obama has his eyes set on a brighter environmental future – rather than following an apathetic Sarah Palin-esque stance of “we can drill our way out of our problem”; that climate change is not a result of human actions; or that polar bears should not be classified as an endangered species.
It appears that the Coalition government could be doing more for environmental protection. It is in their interest as a result of the economic and social value of environmental preservation. Where pledges have been made, they should be met. However, it should be recognised that changes cannot always be made overnight, and that rapid environmental progress and may not always be plausible.