Green Tories “mean business” on environment

After his recent grilling by teachers Education Secretary Michael Gove has been looking for a bit of good news untainted by controversy. It seems he’s found it – with the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

After his recent grilling by teachers Education Secretary Michael Gove has been looking for a bit of good news untainted by controversy.

It seems he’s found it – with the help of Hollywood actor and former Californian state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The pair are among a group of right-leaning politicians and academics voicing their concern for the environment in a new paper. It comes across as a prompt to the British Conservative party to remember its environmentalism.

Launched this week by the forum Conservative Environment Network in Parliament, ‘What the Environment means to Conservatives’ had contributions from former M&S CEO Sir Stuart Rose, vacuum magnate Sir James Dyson, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and actor and  Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In it, Michael Gove writes: “We shouldn’t forget it was Margaret Thatcher’s drive to cut sulphur emissions that stopped the acid rain which was damaging our woodlands… It’s not just a safe and secure environment we are obliged to bequeath our children – but a love of nature, an appreciation of natural history, and an awareness of how human behaviour affects the world around us.”

Mr Schwarzenegger framed energy as an issue of national security: “For decades, industrialised democracies have been in the terrible position of having to purchase oil from foreign countries, sending vast amounts of money outside their borders. A more sustainable energy future would end this dependence and give us energy freedom.”

Unsurprisingly Sir James Dyson’s set store in technology to protect the environment: “It is engineers, not politicians who will save the planet – and not by peddling greenwash but by putting their faith in long-term research and development of new and better technology.”

Ben Goldsmith, Chairman of the CEN’s Steering Committee said: “Partly it’s a reminder of the conservative tradition of Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli and Edmund Burke, all of whom framed their politics in the context of responsibility to future generations.”

He claimed the paper completely “explodes” the “myths that the environment belongs on the left of politics or that business is not leading on this issue”.

Mr Goldsmith added: “The bigger message is that only the conservative tools of competition and the free market are powerful enough to deliver the environmental security and economic resilience we need for a stable society. For me, that means the Right must lead on the environment.