07/08/2015 10:49 BST | Updated 06/08/2016 06:59 BST

The First 100 Days of Conservative Rule Have Been Grim for Anyone Who Cares About Securing a Safe Climate for Our Children and Grandchildren


To mark 100 days of the first Conservative government in nearly 20 years, HuffPost UK is running 100 Days of Dave, a special series of blog posts from grassroots campaigners to government ministers, single parents to first-year students, reflecting on what's worked and what hasn't, whilst looking for solutions to the problems we still face.

As we look back on the first 100 days of this government, many politicians, businesses and campaigners are also looking forward - with just four months to go until world leaders meet in Paris to agree a deal on climate change.

Public demand for action appears to growing. In one recent poll, people were asked how concerned they were about a variety of international issues, and climate change came out on top.

In the UK, official research again shows that public support for renewable energy is strong, whilst local community opposition to fracking blossoms.

The UK has a proud tradition of climate diplomacy. Domestically too, we've shown leadership. As politicians from all parties reiterate, the 2008 Climate Change Act was the first national law committing to binding annual cuts in carbon pollution. That's something to be proud of.

Yet the first 100 days of Conservative rule have been grim for anyone who cares about securing a safe climate for our children and grandchildren.

Perversely, the government's slash and burn approach to climate change and clean energy is also bad for our economy, jobs and investment - from home insulation to manufacturing.

Earlier this month, the energy secretary gave a speech on the government's priorities for the Paris climate conference. She emphasised that we've got a long way to go and there is no room for complacency. Action to tackle climate change makes cold hard economic sense, we were told.

Yet beneath this layer of spin, ministers are demolishing the UK's key carbon reduction policies.

With their own expert advisers calling for urgent action now to avoid increasing costs and impacts of climate change, this is complacent at best. At worst, it's recklessly undermining the prospects for a strong global climate agreement.

When it comes to tackling climate change it's deeds not words that matter the most. No amount of polished rhetoric makes up for an Energy Bill seeking to fossil fuel extraction whilst calling time on onshore wind - the cheapest renewable technology.

The Energy Bill appears to be competing for an award for the least fit-for-purpose piece of legislation of the year. Yet the list goes on.

Take the slashing of solar subsidies - announced after parliamentary recess had begun. The energy secretary explained that the solar industry can't have a blank cheque. Yet, as one of the UK's leading solar firms pointed out, solar has already seen price falls of 80% and "no-one is asking for a blank cheque, just a sensible, transparent and predictable transition to subsidy-free solar".

That's in stark contrast to the blank cheque being waved at the nuclear industry - despite a dismal track record of increasing cost and delay, and public subsidy packages that British renewable energy businesses can only dream of. Then there's the billions of pounds of support given to the fossil fuel industry - including tax breaks for fracking and subsidies for offshore oil and gas.

There's also the decision to scrap the long-established zero-carbon homes policy, meaning future homes, offices, schools and factories will be more costly to run, locking people into higher energy bills. In an open letter to the chancellor, over 200 businesses warned: "This sudden u-turn has undermined industry confidence in government and will now curtail investment in British innovation and manufacturing".

Our natural environment is often a forgotten casualty of fossil fuel extraction and of our changing climate. True to form, we have the government's outrageous flip-flop on fracking in the UK's most precious wildlife areas, with the breaking of the unequivocal guarantee given earlier this year that sites of special scientific interest would be off limits for fracking firms.

The first 100 days of Cameron's government have been disastrous for our environment. Indeed with business leaders warning that the government's u-turns on renewable energy risk sending this country back to the dark ages of relying on fossil fuel, the prime minister's recent reiteration of his 'greenest government ever' claim rings more hollow than ever. With the Paris climate conference fast approaching, it's up to politicians from all parties to listen to the public, turn their backs on vested fossil fuel interests, and work together to change that.

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