Conservation and Environmentalism: Tories Can No Longer Reject Rational Climate Action | Henry Lloyd
I think it’s important to start by saying that, as a Conservative, I define myself as a rational being, who wishes to maintain a level of status quo in the world we live in. And I think this should also include, but not be limited to the environmental state of our planet. For too long now, environmentalism and green action has been associated with the Left; however, in reality, conservation and preservation are key ideals of conservatism. We must be the ones who now take control of the rational narrative when it comes to recognising and addressing climate change in Britain and around the world.
For anyone who has already cast off this article as some hippie drivel on how the ice caps are melting, before you read on, I urge you to visit the websites of Tories for Climate Action, The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, and The British Conservation Alliance, who in particular hold a strong focus on University students and spreading free-market, pro-environmental economic solutions to current green issues. The BCA has also recently released a book with the Austrian Economics Centre, entitled ‘Green Market Revolution’, which I am currently consuming with great enjoyment, and would thoroughly recommend.
Throughout my childhood, at home and school, I never experienced a rejection of Climate Change Theory, and it was only once I began to take a serious interest in politics that I discovered that there was such a thing. To me, it was ludicrous, how grown adults could put their political ideologies entirely in-front of facts and reason when it came to environmentalism, instead of adopting a synergy of rationalism; an acceptance of the facts, and a reasonable solution about what we can do in our everyday lives to make a change.
In Britain, the best example I can think of that is both personal to me and has been seen as a wider social change in recent years is the uptick in the use of reusable water bottles. This was not a movement spearheaded from government level, but through education, societal change, and the acceptance that through small changes to our everyday lives, collectively we can make a difference. For years I would take a new plastic water bottle to school and then just throw it away once I had finished with it. Now, should I need to buy a plastic water bottle when I am out, without access to a reusable bottle, I will take it home when it is empty, so I know it will be recycled properly.
In simplest terms, this is pro-market, pro-planet environmentalism, with society changing for society, instead of society changing for the government. In contrast to this, we see the imposition on restrictions on electric cars that will come into effect by 2040, with not even hybrid power vehicles being tolerated by the plans set out by the previous May administration. The only member of the British establishment who currently uses an electric car for official duties is Prince Charles, who has been seen many times sporting a Jaguar I-Pace, in direct contrast to the Cabinet swanning around Whitehall in their diesel-chugging armoured Range Rovers.
I’m not going to accuse the government directly of hypocrisy when they don’t lead from the front on key issues like this, but with Boris’ environmental plans seemingly becoming more and more distant by the day, as the second wave of coronavirus worsens, one does begin to wonder how much of a back seat has the environment taken, even with the occasional green spending promise. After all, with Hitachi finally condemning the £16b Wylfa plant in Wales for good back in September, and with continued troubles and conflicts with Sizewell C in East Suffolk, the Prime Ministers announcement that windfarms could power every British home by 2030, leaves much to be desired about the current policy of government intervention in environmental issues.
With a Green Deal Pledge from Downing Street expected soon, only time will tell as to whether the Prime Minister and his SpAd’s can separate the hypocrisy, facts and fiction from the conversation on environmentalism. However there are solutions being proposed already by the likes of the BCA, who believe that when it comes to consumerism, there should be an encouragement to buy local, rather than national or even international goods, as it reduces transportation costs, as well as supports local industries and the respective economy. There should also be an emphasis on modernisation of farming techniques and of the introduction of biotechnology, with a greater use of GM crops to make farming more efficient, such as with the amount of water needed to grow certain crops. I can also heavily agree with the concept of Green Tax Cuts for businesses who invest in projects that greatly benefit the environment, in direct contrast to taxation and regulation of businesses who don’t, as it rewards and persuades companies to be innovative in their development of new ideas.
Consequentially, I feel that all this makes a pretty good argument as to why and how Conservatives can and should embrace a new idea of environmentalism, one not dominated by pledges of Green New Deals or threat of economic disruption by the likes of Extinction Rebellion. For those individuals able to think for themselves, this should be the realisation needed to understand the true benefits of Environmental Conservatism, because in reality, there is a point of no return, and we can rectify it, without tearing our economy to pieces.