Interview with Craig Bennett, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Friends of the Earth

Published on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 11:31
Written by Craig Bennett

Here we interview Craig Bennett, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Friends of the Earth. We are GT and Craig is CB. Follow us on Twitter @Govtoday for more interviews soon.

Govtoday: Is Osbourne anti-green?

Craig Bennett: Yes. He seems to be stuck in a 1980s ideological time warp, where he sees the future as economy vs environment. He is so wrong. It's worth reading what one of world's most respected scientists thought of Osborne when I interviewed him.

@jembendell Our money system "encourages climate change & overconsumption" Why are NGOs quiet on this?

CB: We're not. Friends of the Earth has "Fair Transition" programme to make case you get sustainability without equity but it is not an easy issue to take to mainstream. Next month we launch our "Make It Better" on consumer products this has been designed as mainstream way-in to have debate about sustainable consumption issues.

GT: Green deal, good idea or a destined failure?

CB:  Both simultaneously! Could be useful as part of comprehensive strategy but not a panacea. It needs money and regulation to work

GT: Do you think Ofgem should be scrapped, Caroline Flint does!

CB:  What we need is regulator with teeth to ensure decarbonisation of power sector. What you call it doesn't matter so much.

GT:  Are the big 6 out of control and why is the government not monitoring them?

CB: Our privatised and liberalised energy system has made us overdependent on just 6 companies. We need more regulation, more competition and an energy system that is more decentralised, communities, small businesses, schools, hospitals generating electricity where it's used.

GT: Combining the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), good idea?

CB: No. BAS is jewel in UK scientific crown and part of cluster of org's in Cambridge working on climate change. In yr of floods, wildfires, and drought, it beggars belief that government would contemplate closing BAS HQ. Sign petition to Vince Cable here to #saveBAS

GT: Are we doing enough to protect our natural landscapes and nature or has planning reform ruined it?

CB: We protect tiny isolated sites but we have very poor measures to protect and restore wildlife in wider environment

GT: Private sec feel it's impossible to persuade government to uptake renewables, are we slowly abandoning solar and tech?

CB: Osborne's presents planning system as barrier to growth to deflect attention from his failed policies Eg., 500k houses have planning permission but they are not being built because of state of economy. There is extraordinary clean energy revolution taking place globally, with cost of solar, wind tumbling. Green economy delivered third of all growth in UK in 2010. But it could be growing much faster. CBI says green economy could deliver 0.5% growth in 2012 if government put right policies in place.

GT: Thoughts on #greatbarrierreef and the huge concern? Human or natural?

CB: Climate change, and other factors, are destroying coral reefs around the world. This is wildlife tragedy but it is also a huge threat to marine productivity, threatening food security for millions of people.

@CHPA_Craig: How should we heat our homes during the transition to 100% renewables?

CB: 1st step must be to end energy waste and use less. Homes and business in UK still waste huge amounts. Once sorted that out, much can be turned electric but significant role for CHP and biogas

@CHPA_Craig: Should our energy future be centralised wind/CCS/nuke or smaller-scale decentralised (microgrid?) system?

CB: Need to move to far more decentralised system, but still role for largescale generation.

GT: The badger cull has split many, NFU and RSPCA included, surely its right thing to do for farmers?

CB: The badger cull is classic example of policy making NOT based on sound science. It won't solve Bovine TB

GT: Many farmers say it will! surely the future of farming outweighs the argument, if it wont what will?

CB: Politicians get sucked in by simple"silver bullet" solutions (shoot badgers) Real world more complicated. Lots needed to secure future for farming. Need to work with rather than against nature. Vaccine better.

GT: Finally Craig, If Labour were in power tomorrow, what wish list would you write tonight?

CB: 1) Get with the plot and help fast growing green economy and secure max benefit for UK

2) Put measure in place to restore degraded ecosystems, make nature part of people's lives again

3) More to low carbon, low resource and fair society, more resilient and prosperous for future and realise this 21st century start seeing "environment" as integral to delivering economy and social justice.

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