Blair `Adrift' on Environment, Warns Leading Green Adviser

Article excerpt

A CRITIQUE of Tony Blair's green credentials by Britain's leading environmentalist has accused his Government of being dangerously deluded in its belief that it is making people's lives better while protecting the planet.

The report, from the Government's Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), says Mr Blair is "far adrift" from the path to a truly sustainable society, and does not realise the radical shift of policies required. Sir Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the SDC and principal author of the report, says the Prime Minister's central objective remains conventional economic growth, rather than the well- being of society and the planet as a whole.

The report is the most detailed study so far of Labour's professed commitment to sustainable development and cites a list of examples in which that commitment is falling short. "The Government sees a world in which reasonable progress is being made in the United Kingdom on most aspects of the protection of the environment and natural resources," it says. "We see a world in which many natural resources are being dangerously depleted, in which biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, in which many forms of pollution are spreading, which is gravely threatened by long- term climate change, and in which the total impact of the UK's activity is adding to the world's problems."

The report takes issue with the Government's incremental approach to change. "The Government seeks to promote sustainability mainly through numerous small initiatives and shifts of policy, none of which is too demanding by itself, but which may cumulatively lead us to a more sustainable society," it says. "We recognise the political expediency of this model of social engineering. But we think that the situation of the world is too grave for modest incrementalism to be sufficient."

The wide-ranging report, which comes as the Government prepares to review its sustainable development strategy, is likely to make uncomfortable reading for Mr Blair and his ministers. …