THE BLOG

#InMyShoes: Has Cameron's Government Lived Up to Its Promise of Being the 'Greenest Government Ever'?

06/05/2015 18:53 BST | Updated 05/05/2016 10:59 BST

It was October 2010, five months after newly elected David Cameron claimed he wanted the new coalition to be "the greenest government ever". I was at the world's first Tiger Summit, lobbying governments to pledge money to save the critically endangered wild tiger. We knew Cameron was coming the next day to attend the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Premier of China Wen Jiabao, and several other world leaders. So we had prepared our speeches meticulously and fell asleep with butterflies in our stomach. Tomorrow was make or break for the tiger. Either we would make the first step towards saving the entire species, or we would lose it all.

The next morning, I found out Cameron had dropped out and would not be attending.

In the context of electricity market reforms, climate change conferences and carbon target commitments, a tiger summit seems a debatably small disappointment. But for me, an impressionable 19-year-old who wanted to believe that the government would always do its best to 'save the environment', it has stood as a symbol of every promise Cameron has made in relation to conservation and the environment during his term: a number of promises and very little action.

Whether or not Cameron truly meant to aim for the greenest government - perhaps naively, I believe he started with good intentions - it hasn't shown in the progress of his term.

Let's look at the progression of Environmental Secretaries, just as an example. The proposal by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman to sell 15% of England's forests was forced into a U-turn following the recommendation of an independent panel and massive public outcry.

Then along came Owen Paterson, who, joining the cabinet at the beginning of the controversial badger cull, had urged the Cabinet before his appointment for an end to all energies subsidies as well as the fast-tracked exploitation of shale gas. As a climate change sceptic who considers global warming to be a positive force, he also decided to cut climate change adaption funding by almost half.

Finally we have Liz Truss, who although acknowledges climate change exists, cut taxpayer subsidies for solar panels built on agricultural land. Despite "solar farms" having become an increasingly popular option, with sheep grazing amongst the panels and using them for shade, Truss denounced solar panels as 'ugly' and a 'blight on the countryside'.

Truss, of course, is listening keenly to the strangely violent British reaction against the sight of renewable energies, with the public calling loudly for unspoilt views of green rolling hills from their back garden, unfettered by those ugly windmills and solar panels.

But this is exactly this damaging discourse surrounding the environment - this insistence on protecting our dreamy and idyllic English countryside, an ideological figment that supports roads, infrastructure and coal plants, yet fiercely opposes wind turbines - that is causing the distortion and confusion surrounding renewable energies.

As ecocritic Timothy Morton says on wind turbines, objections to wind farms being built on undisturbed landscapes are less about "'Save the environment'" but more "Leave our dreams undisturbed!"

It may make Liz Truss' "heart sink to see row upon row of solar panels", but it makes me considerably sadder to see a party, four years later, which has removed all mention of renewables from its 2015 manifesto, and instead remains committed to fracking.

And now, with the media frenzy surrounding UKIP, immigration and the EU, no leader has been able to give our environment the commitment and attention it desperately requires - an attention not for the sake of fluffy bunnies and countryside hills, but for us, the people within it.

People don't go to tiger summits or take part in climate change lobbies because they want to frighten the world into extortionate green taxes.

We simply want a government that acts as serious about the environment as many of my generation, and which realises that it's not a bad thing to research new energy technologies, research their cardboards, and aim at the long-term goals for once.

Part of the BBC initiative, #InMyShoes for @InMyUK. Join the conversation on Twitter, watch more of our videos on YouTube and find us on Facebook.

This blog was written Dannee McGuire, who's a BBC Generation 2015 contributor. Her views are entirely her own.