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Coalition Government Axes Sustainable Development Commission

By David Holmes on July 26, 2010

Despite promising to become the “greenest government ever”, Prime Minister David Cameron has sought to bypass green initiatives in favour of deep public spending cuts. This week, the Government has announced that it has made plans to close the Sustainable Development Commission, which operates a broad selection of projects in the economic sphere.

Whilst hardly living up to his green ambitions, David Cameron’s decision to axe the Sustainable Development Commission in order to reduce public spending might be considered somewhat ill-advised on the basis that the sustainability watchdog is said to save the Government considerable amounts of money – precisely how much is unclear but proponents argue that savings far outweigh costs.

The Sustainable Development Commission undertakes activities in a multitude of fields, including Capability Building, Climate Change, Consumption and Business, Economics and Energy. Sustainable development is pivotal to the success of the UK’s carbon emission targets, which have become increasingly threatened by widespread spending cuts in the public sector. One of the most influential areas in which the Sustainable Development Commission has operated during recent times is Built Environment. The sustainability watchdog’s commissioner, Anne Power, previously stated that at least “80 per cent of the current housing stock will still be standing in 2050. Therefore, tackling its energy efficiency is vital to our future”. The Commission has aimed to create a sustainable built environment that enables people to “live within environmental limits whilst maximising quality of life”.

The Sustainable Development Commission is currently involved in various projects affecting new and existing housing, neighbourhoods, schools and communities. Supporting the installation of energy efficient central heating boilers and renewable solar panels are just some of the many ways in which the Commission has attempted to nurture a more sustainable environment. Following the news that the sustainability watchdog is to close, many people fear that Britain is reneging on its environmental obligations, which could harm both the environment and the economy. The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP commented: “If the current government is to really stand a chance of getting its head round sustainability, the urgency of the threats and the huge opportunities to benefit this country’s economy as well as its people through green policies, we need the Sustainable Development Commission”.