You have to wonder sometimes if the Tories are playing a game with the climate. How dreadful and damaging can they make their energy plans and still have the nerve to call them green?
The government’s latest joke—the Tories’ so-called “green” economic recovery plan—is already facing a legal challenge.
Under the cover of “rescuing” the economy from the new economic crisis triggered by coronavirus, the Tories are throwing billions at polluting industries.
British Airways, EasyJet, Wizz Air and Ryanair have already taken at least £1.8 billion in loans from the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
Honda, Nissan and Toyota have taken at least another £1 billion between them, while engine maker Rolls Royce has taken £300 million.
Oilfield services companies Baker Hughes and Schluman have taken £600 million and £150 million respectively
It makes the Tories’ more recent announcements of “green spending” as part of their economic recovery plan look utterly hollow.
Some £3 billion has been earmarked for making public buildings insulated and energy efficient, reducing emissions from social housing and for funding tree-planting charity projects.
It’s pitifully inadequate. As legal campaign group Plan B pointed out, it’s far less than the money spent on similar projects in other European countries.
More to the point, it doesn’t come close to tackling the causes of climate catastrophe, let alone mitigating even its worst effects.
Having spent billions ensuring the survival of the industries behind the climate catastrophe, the Tories congratulate themselves for spending pocket money on planting trees.
Plan B last year successfully mounted a legal challenge to get Heathrow airport’s plans for a third runway ruled illegal.
They have now launched a formal legal challenge against the government’s “green” economic recovery plan on Tuesday of last week.
It called the Tories’ announcement “no more than a fig leaf for the government’s new deal for polluters.”
The group says that propping up fossil fuel companies while refusing to fund a green economy puts the Tories in breach of climate agreements and legislation.
These include achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the commitment in the Paris Agreement to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees celsius.
Even these are woefully inadequate measures to avoid catastrophe.
What’s more, Plan B says by pursuing disaster the Tories are threatening the human rights—the right to life and the right to a family—of people across the planet.
In its legal letter to the government, the group said the emergence and spread of diseases such as Covid-19 are one consequence of destructive environmental policies.
It added that the Tories were missing an opportunity to transform the economy, funding green industries and green jobs.
Plan B director Tim Crosland said, “The government can either follow the scientific and economic advice and take a decisive step towards a cleaner, fairer and more sustainable economy, creating vast numbers of new jobs.
“Or it can ignore that advice by prioritising its corporate sponsors and locking us into the path to climate breakdown and a future that is grim beyond words.
“It seems that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are set on choosing the second option, but we can’t let that happen.”
The Tories won’t tackle the climate crisis because it means dismantling the polluting fossil fuel industries at the heart of capitalism.
Confronting that takes more than a legal challenge.
It needs a root and branch transformation of society and a movement of struggle that can take on the power of the fossil fuel bosses that profit from destruction.