Content Coms’ Big Analysis: Media reactions to the Queen’s speech

The Queen’s speech, whilst largely ceremonial, has again drawn focus on overarching UK green policy. Giles Crosse, our Content Coms Chief Analyst, examines the reaction.

The Queen’s speech is often a catalyst for debate on UK legislation. This year’s rhetoric did not disappoint, from this perspective at least.

What did the Queen say?

EDIE wrote that the Queen underlined Government commitments to tackle climate change and unveiled plans to boost new forms of low-carbon transport – including to pioneer driverless cars.

The Queen said: “My Government will continue to play a leading role in world affairs, using its global presence to tackle climate change and address major international security, economy and humanitarian challenges.”

According to the Queen’s speech, the Government will move to respond to global trends set by the recent Paris Agreement by playing a leading role in efforts to fight global climate change.

And leadership from the UK is needed. At the same time, Donald Trump said he would back the US out of its Paris climate commitments, if made President.

Online green-tech info exchange EDIE says with 175 countries recently signing the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2C, the UK Government will seek to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This is against a 1990 baseline as part of its involvement with the European Union’s nationally determined contributions (NDC).

“Rapidly adopting the fifth carbon budget recommended by the Committee on Climate Change and putting forward a comprehensive carbon plan by the end of 2016 must be a key part of this,” Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho told EDIE.

Something vague and undefined about climate change

What’s clear is that ongoing UK leadership and action on carbon is needed; some say today, it’s missing. EDIE didn’t slate the Queen’s words, but other media commentators took a different approach.

‘The near complete absence of climate change from the annual parliamentary set piece only underscores the sense of drift within government on a host of environmental and energy issues,’ wrote Business Green in a powerful argument.

‘Staggeringly, the first Queen’s Speech since the Paris Agreement attempted to usher in a new era in human history, made only a passing reference to climate change and offered next to no insight into how the government intends to navigate the end of the fossil fuel age and the epic opportunities and risks that come with it,’ the Journal damningly commented.

‘There was nothing on promised decarbonisation plans; the upcoming fifth carbon budget; the implications of the Paris deal; the need to embrace clean technologies in buildings, heat, aviation, energy, industry, and agriculture, as well as automotive sectors; plans for improved flood defences; plans for smarter infrastructure and interconnectors; plans to tackle a looming clean energy investment hiatus; the uncertainty dogging the UK’s nuclear programme,’ it proclaimed.

The sense, for Business Green at least, is that the UK has given up its hitherto leading position on climate change and energy efficiency. A damaging Brexit could further undermine green progress.

The Content Coms viewpoint

The Queen’s role is ceremonial. The facts behind her words come from Conservative law makers, who have largely cut swathes into UK green policy while presiding over the Hinkley C fiasco.

In December last year, The Guardian wrote that in the UK, we have lost our world climate leadership role by axing domestic green policies. Today, sadly, this is the reality.

The question is: what can be done to reposition us? Only by constant lobbying at the highest level, by wise business leaders, can UK leadership be restored, and can the UK’s position within Europe, key to future environmentalism, be maintained.

But as crucial is fundamental rebuilding of our archaic political system; itself to blame for the forthcoming EU referendum. While in coalition, green policy grew in stature.

But now the Conservatives hold a majority, political points scoring and ill-disguised greed are the drivers behind Hinkley, behind the dismantling of green subsidy. None of this policy making is based in science, sense or even that element which never lies; sound financial mathematics.

When an outdated political system focuses on humiliation and triumph, on opposition and contempt, pride and egos triumph over common sense. Greed, back slapping and profit win over long term green logic.

Could a new political rhetoric, where laws are made by coalition, by sensible debate, by humility, by politicians untied to the old, fossil based corporate interest be the true path to sustainability? Could green law that supports the people, low carbon business and the environment be the reward?

Here at Content Coms, our conclusion is the Queen only has real power to inspire and generate debate. But, the words she was given fell short of the mark, missing once again the chance to drive UK business and policy forward following Paris.

We require action on energy efficiency, drivers for green business, innovation for carbon mitigation. Time is not on our side. We urge Government policy makers to support UK business in its bid to go green, within a UK that’s proud to be part of a cohesive Europe.”

What did you think of the Queen’s Speech? Let us know.

Content Coms is one of the UK’s leading communications consultancies specialising in the energy, environment and green-tech sectors.

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