Bright Blue’s Green conservatism conference will be an opportunity for centre-right politicians, opinion formers, experts, and industry practitioners to discuss and shape future conservative policies and strategy on the environment.
The conference will be held in the summer of 2017 in Westminster. There will be two keynote speeches, one delivered by Nick Hurd MP (Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry) and the other by Lord Deben (Chair of the Committee on Climate Change). Three panel sessions will explore the future of agriculture, strengthening the energy market, and rethinking conservation, with a range of influential centre-right decision makers and opinion formers as speakers.
The UK’s climate-sceptic fringe has been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump in the US and by Brexit to argue for weaker environmental protections. There is an urgent need for a countervailing conservative movement arguing in favour of protecting the environment. Environmental issues are too often seen as exclusively the concern of the political left. Not only does this harm the political appeal of conservatism to voters that care about the environment, but it also risks losing vital pro-market voices from environmental policymaking.
Yet Conservatives intuitively understand that each generation has a responsibility to the next to hand on a preserved environmental inheritance. We also understand that concern for the environment is properly rooted in people's concern for and responsibility towards the condition of their local communities. Conservatives in power have a proven track-record of delivering action on the environment. A Conservative Government in the UK led the world in introducing a Clean Air Act in 1956 to tackle urban air pollution. Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made one of the first major international speeches on climate change to the UN General Assembly in 1989. And David Cameron's Conservative Government announced that it would close the UK's remaining coal-fired power stations.
There are three suggested key areas where green conservatives can be influential in shaping the political narrative on the environment:
- The future of agriculture. Assessing the effectiveness of agricultural subsidies, and developing a new domestic farming policy that increases agricultural productivity and improves the natural environment.
- Strengthening the energy market. Discussing the role of the state and private enterprise in the energy sector, and developing policies that could strengthen private markets, while also cost-effectively tackling climate change.
- Rethinking conservation. Evaluating different approaches to preserving and enhancing the state of the natural environment, and understanding the implications of conservation policies across government departments.
Following the impact and profile of Bright Blue's Green conservatism project, this conference offers a unique opportunity for delegates to build a network of centre-right environmentalists and to discuss the development of centre-right ideas and policies for protecting the environment.