Sunday, 20 April 2008
Is voting green a luxury good?
Green candidate for London Mayor Sian Berry
The Green Party is concerned that its hopes of winning four seats in the London Assembly elections may be hit by the state of the economy. This is the fear of Green candidate for mayor Sian Berry.
While New Labour has announced a number of hard line green policies in recent weeks such as cracking down on gas guzzling cars, the Tories are edging away from their 'vote blue, go green' tactic which was a useful means of demonstrating that the party had changed. George Osborne has admitted that it would be hard to force green taxes on the public unless they were sweeetend with incentives.
CBI supremo (and Warwick University Chancellor) Richard Lambert recently warned that green policies that looked like 'no brainers' when the economy was growing rapidly looked less alluring when growth slowed. A recent YouGov poll hinted at growing boredom among the public about the reptition of environmental messages. 30 per cent of those polled thought that there was too much coverage in the media about global wraming (although some of those could be diehard 'petrolheads').
Ipsis Mori data shows that concern about the environment peaked in January 2007 when 19 per cent of people named it as one of the biggest issues facing Britain today, but by January 2008 that figure had fallen to 8 per cent. In contrast 23 per cent rated the economy as a top concern, double the number who did for most of 2007. However, Ipsis Mori emphasised that for people to mention an issue unprompted is a tough benchmark.
Race, immigration and terrorism top voter concerns at the moment. However, a recurrence of unusual weather events could drive up interest in the environment again. Moreover, high oil prices remind people of the need to develop alternative energy sources. For the Conservatives retaining an interest in the environment would help them to take seats off the Liberal Democrats, the greenest of the three main parties.