I was delighted to join my Conservative colleagues in the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), of which I am a member, to sign a declaration of support for a manifesto designed to govern the UK's policies to prevent climate catastrophe and to allow for greener economic growth.
I have always said that climate change is one of the most serious global challenge that we face and we should and could do more. This is why I share the views of my colleagues that this manifesto should act as a spur for even greater government action and that we should all take responsibility for making our own contribution to tackle this most worrying of issues.
However, whilst I agree with the principles generally, there is one policy in the manifesto upon which I disagree. I should make clear that I am not in favour of a ban on fracking, which is one of the suggestions in the manifesto.
My position on this is clear. I am in favour of producing shale gas as long as it is regulated well so that we protect the landscape and the environment. We will continue to need gas for decades to come. As we phase out the dirtiest fossil fuels, like coal, hydrogen will need to be part of the solution. It cannot be a question of either renewables or gas because we must find a solution which works for everyone, including businesses to ensure our energy needs are met. We currently import around half our gas, a figure that will increase significantly over the next decade as we phase out coal-fired power generation and it makes sense to me to produce it rather than import it.
I gladly support the six principles below but, when doing so, I made it clear that I was not able to support the group’s policy on fracking.
The six principles are:
- We recognise the gravity of the global environmental crisis, and our duty to preserve and restore our planet for future generations.
- We agree that by working with nature, rather than against it, we can grow our economy faster and more sustainably - and that the environment provides essential services that underpin economic growth.
- We believe that the best route to net zero emissions is through a prosperous market economy that innovates quickly.
- We know that transformational change starts with the responsibility of the individual.
- We believe that the UK has a duty to display global leadership on the environmental crisis.
You can read the full manifesto here: https://www.cen.uk.com/our-manifesto