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The Latest Climate Change Denier?

Published by Jonathon Porritt on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 16:58 pm

I’ve just spent some time reading through Nick Clegg’s speech to his Party Conference.And I found myself asking whether this might be the first speech by a Party Leader in the 21st Century that doesn’t even mention climate change? Indeed, could it be the worst speech ever, from a sustainability point of view, from a Lib Dem Leader in modern times?I know it’s a bit geeky, but here are the relevant extracts from the speech:“We promised a re-balanced green economy. There will be a Green Investment Bank to channel money into renewable energy”.“Imagine how it will feel to visit home after home that our Green Deal has made warm and affordable to heat”.And, er that’s it.Don’t get me wrong. I thought it was a good speech. Nick Clegg is a real Leader, and he spoke well about making the Coalition work. I’ve never really understood where the ‘soul’ of the Liberal Democrats is located, but he spoke of this with integrity and purpose. There will be many Lib Dem activists who will not have been persuaded (largely because of their visceral hatred of the Tories). But he was as persuasive as he could have been, and he had a lot of big and important issues to tick off.But really! If the environment / sustainability / climate change nexus isn’t very close indeed to the Lib Dems soul, then you have to ask what is.As far as the general public is concerned, if the Lib Dems can’t ‘deliver’ on the environment (as in ‘greenest government ever’) on behalf of a Coalition Government as a whole, then they’ll get slaughtered.And nothing – not one word, not one passing nod – about climate change. We’re just a few weeks away from the next big climate change conference in Cancun in Mexico (the near-inevitable failure of which will essentially result in the demise of the Kyoto Treaty post-2012, representing a massive set back in terms of addressing climate change),and the Deputy Prime Minister has got diddly-squat to say.I haven’t done my homework, but my hunch is that this is the first Conference speech from a major Party Leader that will have completely ignored climate change in recent times. Ever since Tony Blair used his conference speech as Prime Minister in 1997, to raise the whole profile of climate negotiations, it’s been up there as a ‘must mention’ by all Party Leaders – however superficial and meaningless some of those mentions may have been.I rather doubt David Cameron, let alone the new Labour Leader will make such a fundamental error.

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