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Passionate discussions among Conservatives on the environment


ACRE’s Blue-Green Summit sparked lively debate yesterday, reigniting the discussion within the conservative family on the environment. Speakers represented the full spectrum of conservative environmental thinking: revealing outspoken disagreements in some cases; but also a number of common themes, particularly regarding the positive potential of the market to achieve environmental improvement.

The Summit was preceded by protests from environmental groups outside the venue. In reference to which, ACRE Secretary-General Daniel Hannan introduced the Summit saying:

The casual observer today would see what looks like the classic iconography that sustains the idea of environmentalism as a left wing cause. You look outside the building and you see dishevelled, dreadlocked protestors in a cool, anti-establishment, radical setting; and you look inside and you see some respectable looking people mainly wearing ties. And this can create the idea that somehow conservatism is corporatist, fusty; whereas love of the environment is radical.

But I want to advance the proposition - and I want to see as the panels come through the day – the idea come out that in fact, environmentalism is the quintessentially conservative cause: it’s the supreme manifestation of that partnership between the dead, the living and the unborn, that Edmund Burke made the core of conservative philosophy.

The protests were largely directed toward the participation of Myron Ebell, Donald Trump’s transition leader of the Environment Protection Agency – who, at the beginning of his keynote speech was interrupted by a Greenpeace activist standing with a banner labelled “Resist”.

Lord Barker, another of our Blue-Green speakers, who was UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change under David Cameron’s government, tweeted about the incident:

Well done @Greenpeace for standing up to #Myron Ebell I hope to get my chance shortly! #BlueGreenSummit

Mr. Ebell responded to Lord Barker’s adversarial presentation, saying:

It is my understanding that Lord Barker has an extremely strong financial interest in this crony capitalist regime.

Earlier, in his keynote, Mr. Ebell argued:

The idea that rulers know better has created a crony capitalist class who benefit from these subsidies and regulation… time and time again the 'experts' are being relied on in things of which they have no practical knowledge.

In answer to an audience question regarding what advice he would give Mr. Ebell, Lord Barker replied:

Please please stop trashing experts, it is incredibly dangerous and interconnected world, and the idea that we should denigrate learning and expertise sends a terrible message to younger people.

Furthermore, Dr. Khalil Amiri, the Tunisian Secretary of State for Scientific Research highlighted:

85% of investment in a greener economy must come from the private sector, but the government has a part to play.

Anneleen Van Bossuyt MEP agreed with these ambitions for the market, but the requirement for smart government regulation:

I personally believe that we need small government with light regulatory framework that enable the good working of the free market with the necessary safeguards.

Without a global context it is impossible to contribute to mastery of climate challenges,

Jos Delbeke, the Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Climate Action, said. He also explained the role of Horizon2020 and the 5-10 billion€ innovation fund allotted, to which Michael Liebreich, the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, responded:

The idea of an ‘innovation fund’ run by bureaucrats fills me frankly with dread; I’m going to paraphrase the great Ronald Reagan, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to innovate’ amongst the scariest things someone can hear.

A panel on trusteeship also yielded a fruitful discussion on the role of property rights in trusteeship:

In the private sector we created an alternative market for salmon, solving the problem using common sense.

- Orri Vigfusson, founder of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund

Greenpeace’s most fervent campaign has been against golden rice… a campaign that has savaged the global poor.

- Lord Ridley, author of 'The Rational Optimist'

We must think, what are the unintended effects of picking winners?

- Sigríður Á. Andersen, Minister of Justice in Iceland

Deforestation is slowing down dramatically as the world gets richer.

- Prof. Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham

Numerous news outlets have covered this summit, including POLITICO, The Guardian, VRT (TV), RTBF (TV), sudinfo (TV), La Province (TV), De Morgen, Welt ("photos of the day"), The Huffington Post, Deutschlandradio Kultur, ZME Science, and Klimaretter.

For more information on the Blue-Green Summit, please visit the event page.

For more information on the ACRE, visit us at www.acreurope.eu.


Notes to editors:

  • The Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) is the fastest-growing European political movement. Its 31 member parties are united by the principles of individual liberty, national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, private property, limited government, sound money, free trade, strong families and the devolution of power.
  • The Summit consisted of two panels: the first on innovation: how market competition inspires green innovation; and the second on trusteeship: how private ownership inspires green management. ACRE’s Blue-Green Summit was also be the occasion for the launch of the latest issue of our new quarterly journal, The Conservative, in which Blue-Green environmentalism will be the leading theme.

Press Officer to contact: Steffen Kudella on +32 470 371 910 or s.kudella@acreurope.eu