Alex Chalk and Oliver Dowden Face Extinction

Matt Snape argues that supposedly Conservative MPs such as Alex Chalk and Oliver Dowden must let the free market, not Extinction Rebellion, tackle climate change

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Matt_snape
Matt Snape
On 14 October 2019 15:35

Dowden must let the free market, not Extinction Rebellion, tackle climate change

Hertsmere’s Conservative MP, Oliver Dowden, was recently caught tweeting that he planted an ‘Extinction Rebellion’ tree with representatives from Borehamwood Town Council. He tweeted ‘increasing tree cover is one of the many ways in which we need to work to tackle climate change.’

This Conservative administration has done more than any previous government to try to tackle global warming. Before Theresa May resigned, she introduced a statutory measure to ensure that this country becomes carbon-neutral by 2050. Although this target remains unachievable, with companies like Solar Century informing Reuters that this aim can only become realistic if the government slashes fossil fuel subsidies and harnesses the solar sector, it shows that since David Cameron became Tory leader in 2005, the party’s commitment to environmentalism is central to its current identity.

When Michael Gove served as Environment Secretary, he introduced a ban on ivory and plastic straws. As Katy Balls said in i News, since 2010, the party has cut single use plastic bags by 86 per cent through the plastic bag charge, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent since 2010, generated record levels of solar and wind energy and committed to ending unabated coal by 2025. Whilst some may doubt the Tories’ likelihood of achieving long-term environmental sustainability through government intervention, there are at least good intentions behind their green agenda.

Dowden and Cheltenham’s Tory MP, Alex Chalk, encapsulates what is wrong with Parliament. Chalk told Gloucestershire Live that he is ‘hugely proud’ of Extinction Rebellion and that their protest means ‘radical change’ to environmental legislation is required. This, again, exposes the lack of self-confidence Tory MPs have in being able to understand which solutions are required to tackle climate change.

If the Conservatives are serious about being a free market and environmentally friendly party, they need to allow capitalism to develop the solutions needed to curb carbon emissions and ignore Extinction Rebellion. As Heritage Online explains, the US asserted itself when it rejected the Paris Climate Agreement by allowing individuals to control their own access to energy.

Since 1980, the US has reduced harmful pollutants in the air. Nitrogen dioxide is down 57 percent and sulfur dioxide has decreased by 80 percent.

When governments cut the market-manipulation caused by overbearing regulations, everyone is motivated to maintain economic viability. The result is competitive energy prices and reduced emissions.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the US witnessed a 2.2 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from 2014. That was attributed to energy companies switching from coal to natural gas.

Therefore, if MPs like Chalk and Dowden are serious about tackling climate change, they need to stop allowing Extinction Rebellion to hijack the agenda and instead allow capitalism to deliver the solutions. It has worked in the US and it can work here. If they don’t allow innovative companies to solve global warming, can the Conservatives claim to be the ‘free market’ party?

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