“The Tories’ rebranding won’t wash: being green is about more than fluffy bunnies”

Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato writes in the Guardian: The problem for the Tories is that being green is about so much more than fluffy bunnies. While individual policies on animal protection are welcome, in a nation full of animal lovers they are easy wins. They also ignore the central lesson of ecology, a lesson that Gove and his fellow Tories have never been able to grasp: that life on Earth is one system. Nature abhors not only a vacuum but also compartmentalisation. Those lovely beavers and polar bears need somewhere to live; more than compassion and concern they need a habitat. And if you let a fracking company pollute the waterways or throw subsidies at fossil fuels then the beavers will die and the polar bears will starve.

First, will he persuade his government to ban fracking and go all out for renewables? Fracking poses huge threats to some of our most fragile and treasured landscapes and will expose communities and wildlife to noise, air, light and water pollution. The government remains committed to this destructive industry and in the recent budget, Philip Hammond left Britain’s renewable energy industry out in the cold with no new subsidies for low-carbon electricity generation until 2025.

Second, will he phase out toxic glyphosate, Europe’s most used herbicide, linked to cancers and other health problems as well as having damaging impacts on soil and biodiversity? Banning neonicotinoids was easy, especially since the latest extensive study that confirmed their devastating impacts was mainly funded by two major neonicotinoid producers. Banning, or, as the European Parliament recently voted for, phasing out glyphosate, is an altogether more testing challenge for Gove. Especially so since his government recently voted to support the renewal of the license for glyphosate for a further five years.

Third, a genuine test of the Tories newfound love affair with animals, will be to see if Gove can persuade the government to end the badger cull, described by a government appointed Independent Expert Panel (IEP) in 2013 as “ineffective and inhumane”. The government recently gave the go-ahead for further badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

[Read full column on Guardian website…]