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Oliver Gibson: The case for conservative environmentalism


Oliver Gibson (CEN supporter)

For much of its time in political discourse, climate change has been seen as an un-conservative issue. Conservatives, so some would have us believe, are utterly out of touch with the public on the environment and would deplete our islands of every natural resource imaginable just to preserve economic growth. This just isn’t true.


Whether it’s the fact that Edward Heath created the Department of the Environment, that Margaret Thatcher was the first world leader to speak about the need for action on climate change at the UN Assembly, or that the Conservatives have set out plans to reach net zero by 2050, the fact is inescapable that conservatives care about the environment – just as we care about our country.


Conservative environmentalists have raised many important points over the years, but one in particular stands out when considering the impacts of the ongoing inflation crisis and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Diversifying away from fossil fuels and towards renewable, green energy sources would boost Britain’s national security and amplify our voice on the world stage.


We must face up to some hard truths. We cannot hope to be independent if we rely on imported fossil fuels. We encounter difficulty promoting the merits of freedom and democracy while consuming the oil of tyrannical regimes. Green energy production will not only improve the quality of our air, water and soil, but it will allow us to take an even firmer stand against Putin than we have in the past. Germany, on the other hand, is frantically trying to undo its dependence on Russian fuels – and this has been made much harder by Merkel’s decision to abandon nuclear energy.


The Government has passed two huge milestones in the last month alone. Hornsea Wind Farm, whose second site is now operational, is now the largest offshore wind farm in the world. But this isn’t a novel development – Britain now occupies the top three positions in that list. Furthermore, in September Boris Johnson gave the green light to £700 million worth of funding for a new nuclear power station in Suffolk.

While we could always do more, it is clear that Britain is moving firmly in the right direction – and it is doing so under successive Conservative governments.


The lie that Conservatives are indifferent to climate change ought to be disregarded. The majority of Conservative backbenchers belong to the Conservative Environment Network’s parliamentary caucus. Conservative MPs introduce and vote for ambitious environmental legislation. Most of Britain’s rural and agricultural heartland is represented by Conservative MPs. What’s more, they were elected under a manifesto committed to the conservation and restoration of the environment.


Environmental restoration has always been a process, rather than an event, but the fact remains that, both in theory and in practice, the case for conservative environmentalism has already been made!

 

Views expressed in this blog are those of the author, not necessarily those of the Conservative Environment Network. If you are a CEN supporter, councillor, or parliamentarian and would like to write for the CEN blog, please email your idea to cameron@cen.uk.com.


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