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The UK takes a step forward on fighting Climate Change

May 23, 2011

Major news concerning environmental policy in the UK was made on May 17th in Westminster. British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne introduced a new plan to Parliament that would reduce their carbon emissions up to 50 percent by 2025.  This initiative is even more aggressive in combating carbon than the official policy of the EU, whose goals are to reduce carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.  This news has been more than welcomed by the environmental community, receiving support from Greenpeace among others.

What makes this news intriguing is that Prime Minister David Cameron is leading a shaky coalition government while trying to help the UK recover from their economic woes.  The Tory led coalition has made major cuts to social services in Britain. The cuts have included reducing the number of jobs in the public sector as well as targeting pensions.  So the decision to launch an aggressive green initiative concerning carbon emissions seems out of the ordinary. Why? To speculate, this could be a political red herring to show that he is a champion of progressive environmental values, or Prime Minister Cameron believes that he can revolutionize the British economy with green initiatives.

According to the British Dept. of Energy and Climate change this new policy is not just aimed at carbon reductions, but also in creating a vibrant, sustainable economy based on cleaner energy and utilization of resources. Prime Minister Cameron said in a press release on Tuesday that “By making this commitment, we will position the UK a leading player in the global low-carbon economy, creating significant new industries and jobs.” Skeptics of the Prime Minister’s plans have questions concerning the Green Investment Bank. The Green Investment Bank is the most integral part of the coalition’s plan to revive the economy. It offers loans to clean energy businesses that the government hopes will spur a major boost in the British economy. The Financial Times reported that “The promised green investment bank won’t really be a bank at all, at least in this term of government, it will be unable to lend until 2015.”  This leaves very little time for the Prime Minister to see the economic results of his policies. This leads one to wonder how much political capital Mr. Cameron has spent taking these measures.

This news is going to have serious implications with EU member states as they struggle to bounce back from the global recession while pursuing cleaner energy policies. With the UK taking this major step forward it will be interesting to see how other EU member states will respond to this news.  Will they take the risk passing legislation in hope of creating a sustainable, economically viable green future?

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