Does blue + 
yellow = green?

New coalition pledges to be the 'greenest government ever'.

Does blue + 
yellow = green?

Conservative Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has pledged that our new government will be the greenest in UK history – but how does the coalition plan to achieve that, and more importantly, can it succeed?

Speaking to MPs following the Queen's Speech, Spelman stated that the new Energy Bill – promised by PM David Cameron in the next parliament – 'clearly demonstrates the commitment to be the greenest government in the country's history'.

Spelman continued: 'For the first time, we are developing an integrated strategy across government, and across the public, private and third sectors, to tackle the loss of biodiversity, address the way that we use resources, adapt to climate change and grow a greener economy that provides the clean, green jobs and industries of the future.'

So what of this Energy Bill? At its heart is the implementation of a 'Green deal' which the government promises will deliver a framework for bringing energy efficiencies to homes and businesses, with potential incentives such as a 'pay as you save' scheme. This approach – which was also proposed as a concept by the previous Labour government – is likely to allow householders to borrow money to make their home greener and then repay the loan through money saved in energy bills, although the right incentives and support will clearly be needed to achieve mass consumer buy-in. A proposed Green Investment Bank, which the PM is keen to implement, will support this, and offer investment in low-carbon projects that will transform the economy.

The Bill may also introduce new powers to better regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations, reform consumers' energy bills to provide more information, and support the development of a 'smart grid' to better manage the supply and demand for electricity. All this on top of a pledge to reduce the government's own carbon emissions 
by 10 per cent in the next year, and support an increase in the EU emission-reduction target to 
30 per cent by 2020.

Certainly, the signs are good that the new administration is placing environmental issues high on the agenda. With Lib Dem Chris Huhne appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the new government is making the right moves to tackle the many problems in the environmental arena, but with other pressing issues competing for attention and investment, time will tell whether these early and promising plans will facilitate real change.

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