The "GREENS" are now really challanging major Political Parties on the Environment.

The Green party's historical lead over the climate change issue has recently been overshadowed by the mainstream parties keen to seize the green agenda and claim that they lead and shape such thinking, well we all know this will not fool the electorate for much longer.

At the party's annual conference in Liverpool Dr Caroline Lucas set the policy tone and highlighted the "yawning gap" between political rhetoric and proposed measures to combat climate change put forward by other 3 main political parties.

Ms Lucas said things essential to combat climate change include: the introduction of personal carbon allowances to ensure emissions are shared equally between everyone in the UK; a halt to all road and airport expansion, and incentives to boost renewable electricity generation.

She condemned Britain's record on renewables under Labour, which she said had developed at a "snail's pace" and continued to say "We have the biggest potential for renewable energy within Europe," at a press conference earlier in the day, she added that "We have almost all the wave power and almost half the wind power, yet we are failing."

Siân Berry, the party's "female principal speaker", said earlier today that the Conservatives had yet to sign up to the stronger proposals - including green tax incentives and a moratorium on airport expansion - outlined in the review conducted by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith.

"There's some nice rhetoric, but in terms of actual policies there is nothing radical and effective there," she said. "And they have already been watered down. John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith have fallen at the first hurdle and backed off on airport expansion. "The energy-saving incentives in the report are meek and certainly not the radical investment we need."

Ms Lucas said: "We are deeply serious about winning elected office but the reason we are serious is because we do not see any evidence that other parties are up for the job," she said. She also siad that "We see a yawning gap between what other parties say and do."

Labour were critisized for "making a farce" of the low carbon buildings programme, which gives householders grants for renewable energies, through wrangles over funding and maladministration, and the proposals to expand Heathrow airport.

Dr Lucas also added: "You can depend on the other parties to back up their warm words on climate change with a total lack of delivery."

A report published this week by a coalition of nine environmental groups found that "all three [mainstream parties] must close the gap between rhetoric and delivery", said Ms Berry. "They are denying the impact of more flights on Britain's contribution to climate chaos," she said. "They talk about climate change internationally, but at home they do nothing about it."

"The way things are now, being green can be a bit of a luxury. The poorest are being left out of the drive to save the planet."

Ms Berry said that the Lib Dems often failed to match their green intentions with action when they ran local government. She pointed out that the local Liverpool Lib Dem-run council which lagged in the bottom 10 of the local authority recycling league.


To give an idea of whats happening, I refer to this article below written over 18 month ago by John Vidal (with kind permission).

Is GREEN Thinking shaping Politics?
The question is valid because, for the first time in 30-odd years, no Green party is sharing government in a major European country. The Latvian Greens are one quarter of a four-party coalition; there is a self-styled "Red-Green" alliance now running Norway, but that doesn't count because the official party has denounced it; the Finnish Greens pulled out of power over the nuclear question; the Germans - so long the standard bearers - are kaput.

While there are still thousands of elected Greens in European, national and local parliaments, the idea of them participating in the running of countries now seems quaint.

To be fair, their fall has been outside their influence. There is little evidence that the green vote has seriously dropped off, and plenty to show that it is rising in places such as Scotland. Rather, it seems that support has dropped for the big left-leaning parties that have wooed the Greens to join them in power. It's not your fault if your big partner fouls up.

But equally the idea is growing that green ideas suit political opposition better. When your stated intention is not just to achieve power but to totally reform human governance to fit the constraints of the biosphere, then you are not really in the same political ideas field as, say, New Labour or the Greek socialists. Philosophically, you might as well as be Venusians or Martians.


And that is why green politics is not dead. For many people, both in and out of the parties, the point of green politics is to challenge the status quo, and question what traditional parties might term "progress", or "growth" or "prosperity". For them, the green political spirit is about devolving, decentralising and localising power - the opposite tendencies to most parties, which seek to control, concentrate and expand. Many German Greens are said to be rejuvenated now they have lost power and no longer have to compromise their ideas.

And no one doubts that green thinking has changed the face of European and international politics since it joined the political arena 40-odd years ago. Every institution and political party must these days take the environment seriously, which means they must steal the ideas of the Greens.

When the Women's Institute sounds more radical than the Labour party, then you know your message is getting through.

- Words in this column by kind permission
John Vidal

John Vidal is the Guardian's environment editor.

Nov/Dec 2007