Friday, 5 January 2018

Has Michael Gove had a "Road to Damascus" moment?

There's been plenty of coverage on the news about Michael Gove's speech to the Oxford Farming Conference and his visit to the Oxford Real Farming Conference , a summary of which can be found here .

Now, not so long ago, he was taking aim at the EU Habitats Directive and saying that laws restricting development near protected habitats could be slashed after Brexit , and when he was wanting to reform the education curriculum, (although this was denied) climate change would have been dropped from Geography lessons. Also, Gove voted for a levy on energy from renewal sources and voted against an amendment that would have forced oil companies to always have an environmental assessment before fracking, and indeed with the Government when they originally proposed to sell off national forests (proposal was subsequently withdrawn after a public backlash)

Now, it seems as if he's a paid up environmentalist. Whether what he has read in coming into the DEFRA has changed his view or whether this is just green spin with no substance we'll need to wait to find out. However, elsewhere in Government there is the drive for fracking, the slashing of feed in tariffs for renewables, the freezing of fuel duty for road vehicles and the year on year increase in rail fares, the stated aim for "cheap" imported food under new trade deals (cheapness comes at a cost somewhere whether it is in animal welfare, worker payments, environmental damage etc). Though to be fair Michael Gove has stated that he doesn't want to water down our high animal welfare standards as a sweetener for trade deals.

The way in which the Government has failed, despite repeated court orders, to deal with air quality is also cause for skepticism, and there's those on the right that outright deny human caused climate change. There's the omission (and I think this is still the case at present) of the precautionary principle when considering environmental impacts from the translation of EU law to UK law.

So. Do I trust this government? In a word, no, but at least there's a bit of leverage here to hold Michael Gove and indeed the rest of the government to "leaving the environment in a better state than when they found it" and a "green Brexit".

What can we do? Well writing to your MP does get some attention, I wrote to mine about a number of concerns as regards such as the precautionary principle and translation of the habitats directive in the Brexit legislation etc and I received a response from a government minister! Also, joining forces with campaigning organisations on specific issues, signing petitions and indeed showing examples from your own life to encourage others and show benefits to the environment. 

No comments:

Post a comment