Quality Of Life Challenge 2007


 

This was the official website for the Quality of Life Policy Group created by Davis Cameron, the Leader of the British Conservative Party, as a policy group on the environment to pave the way for "tough decisions" on cutting greenhouse gas.
Content is from the site's 2007 archived pages.

 

Quality of Life Challenge

The Quality of Life Policy Group was set up by David Cameron to recommend policies to the Shadow Cabinet. What follows are our recommendations for consideration by the Conservative frontbench, the Conservative Party more widely, and the large number of people outside who are looking for solutions that break away from current political restrictions.
 
It is not for us to define Conservative policy but what we have proposed here sits firmly in the Tory tradition. Since its inception the Conservative Party has recognised that, if it is to uphold its continuing principles in a changing world, those principles have to be applied in a contemporary way so that they are relevant to a new generation. 

The remit of the Group was to consider holistically the issues of the built environment; rural life; food, farming, fishing and the marine environment; transport; energy; waste; and water. 
All these are fundamentally affected by two significant concerns: Climate change and social unease.

Climate change is the most significant material threat to our future, while the degree to which our society has become dysfunctional, inhibits our ability to succeed as a nation.
We cannot go on as we are, ignoring the effects of the world’s misuse of its resources while, at the same time, pretending that we have a society at ease with itself. The Policy Group has become convinced that radical change is essential. More of the same is not an option. What follows provides the basis for that necessary change. 

It is only the beginning. There is much more to be done to refine and extend the proposals which we offer. They are fundamentally Conservative proposals, even though we have drawn on the help and expertise of people of all parties and none. They rely on the strength and power of the market even though they reflect values that reach above and beyond it.  They recognise the imperative of prosperity but acknowledge that growth is unsustainable without social justice. They concentrate on a programme for Britain but present that programme in the context of Europe and the wider world.
 
This Report is fundamentally optimistic. In the face of the threat from climate change, we believe that Britain is capable of again rising to the challenge of  leadership. We shall not be able to do it alone but, without us, it will be difficult for it to be done at all. 

However, our optimism is tempered by a realisation of the size of the task and the shortness of the time. Action and urgency are its recurrent themes. Britain has delayed too long. It deserves a government with the clarity of vision and the strength of purpose to act and to act decisively. We present these proposals for action in the hope and belief that the next Conservative government will  provide the leadership and the delivery that our nation has lacked for a decade.

We would like to thank all the individuals and organisations who generously gave their time to
participate in this review, and to extend and enrich our understanding, especially members of the various policy working groups. While these groups were an important part of the consultative process, the final Report is necessarily a synthesis and none of the participants can be held accountable for all, or part, of it. That remains the responsibility of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman. We would like to reiterate that participation in the working groups of the Quality of Life Policy Group does not imply affiliation to the Conservative Party.

 

Our Ambition

We have looked at every aspect of the Quality of Life agenda. For the first time these areas have been considered together, as the world faces up to climate change.

The Chairmen

Board Members
David Cameron invited two of the UK's leading environmentalists, John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, to lead the Quality of Life Policy Group.

Policy Areas

We had eight working groups looking in depth at specific subjects. Each group has their own section detailing their terms of reference.

Each chapter of the report can be downloaded separately within the relevant policy area. An abridged version of the Climate Change chapter is published in the report. You can download the full version here.

The Quality of Life Policy Group, chaired by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, published its final report, Blueprint for a Green Economy, at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Thursday 13 September 2007.

The report is the result of over 18 months work with contributions from nearly 500 people.

Summary
It is increasingly clear that the global economy must be retooled in order to ensure that it operates sustainably, within environmental limits. In this urgent task, it will be the world’s developed countries which lead the way. Over nearly three centuries we have grown ever richer but we have done so at the expense of the environment upon which our lives depend. We have therefore both the means and the obligation to repair the damage.  Here in Britain, in the last 18 months, one major political party has made the running in debating these
issues and seeking to redefine progress, development, and wellbeing for a new era. That it has been the Conservative Party should not have come as a surprise. The notion of treating our natural environment with the same care that we treat our social and institutional structures is an inherently conservative one. 

Already, over three decades, the Conservative Party has ensured that the central role of the market is accepted by all sides of the political debate in the United Kingdom.  Part of that role is to enable society to move on to a sustainable footing.  But its effectiveness is inhibited because GDP, the measurement of progress that we have adopted, is limited and increasingly perverse. It does not adequately measure the health of our environment and society. While it remains crucial as a measurement of economic output and productivity, it is ill designed to rate our progress and wellbeing in the round. A future Conservative government should adopt new measurements of progress, alongside GDP, that measure the other factors which are crucial to human and environmental wellbeing. Economic growth is a vital factor in the equation but so is social wellbeing and environmental wellbeing.  We must therefore look to a leaner, cleaner, more efficient economy which respects environmental limits in delivering maximum wellbeing for all. This move to green the economy gives us enormous opportunities. The Low Carbon Revolution is our century's equivalent of the Industrial Revolution. Now, as then, Britain should be in the vanguard.

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Climate Change

Welcome to the Climate Change working group

Nick HurdWe are getting used to politicians describing climate change as one of the great challenges of our time. But what can we do about it?

The task of this group is to give the British Conservative Party some fresh answers to this question. It is a chance to stretch the boundaries of what is considered politically possible.

We hope that our work will play a part in developing the cross party consensus that this long term challenge requires.

Nick Hurd MP - Convenor of Climate Change working group

 

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Energy

Welcome to the Energy working group

Tim EggarThe Conservative Party is committed to ensuring we can reduce carbon emissions to a level that enables us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and avert potential catastrophe. An effective energy policy is essential to achieving that commitment.

Policy must go beyond mere rhetoric and voluntary codes to provide a coherent framework of incentives, regulations and fiscal measures that, together with long-term targets, provide a clear, consistent and coherent agenda against which businesses, industry, domestic consumers and investors can plan and determine action.

Tim Eggar - Convenor, Energy Working Group

 

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Food, Farming and Rural Affairs

Welcome to the Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Working Group

Tom OliverWelcome to the section of our site dealing with Food, Farming and Rural Affairs.

The Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Working Group within the Quality of Life Policy Group has four working groups, considering:

  • Food Policy
  • Agriculture
  • Rural Affairs
  • Marine, Coastal and Fisheries

These groups invited experts to contribute on specific areas of interest, both through oral and written submissions.

Tom Oliver - Convenor, Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Working Grou

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The Built Environment

Welcome to The Built Environment Working Group

The impact of the built environment, planning and use of public space upon the sustainability and wellbeing of society in general and local communities in particular is profound. Buildings are a major contributor to resource consumption and carbon emissions and are also integral to community and individual wellbeing and cohesion. The built environment is an essential part of local social and economic infra-structure and transport systems. The Quality of Life Commission is committed to ensuring that the built environment becomes the foundation of a low carbon economy and that planners, developers, architects and builders are driven by sustainable design and the quality of life of those who live and work within it.

Buildings are a major contributor to resource consumption and carbon emissions and are also integral to community and individual wellbeing and cohesion.

The built environment is an essential part of local social and economic infra-structure and transport systems.

The Quality of Life Commission is committed to ensuring that the built environment becomes the foundation of a low carbon economy and that planners, developers, architects and builders are driven by sustainable design and the quality of life of those who live and work within it.

David Strong - Convenor, The Built Environment Working Group

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Transport

Welcome to the Transport Working Group

The transport of people, goods and services is a key component of economic growth and social well-being. Demand for transport has so far risen in line with economic growth, as people increase the mileage they travel by air, road or rail in pursuit of business or leisure, and the goods they buy are transported over ever longer distances.

However, growth in motorised transport is associated with a number of environmental and social problems, ranging from climate change and the loss of greenbelt land to health problems such as asthma and obesity. The current pricing of transport fails to capture these so-called external costs, keeping the price of motoring and aviation artificially cheap.

The gap between the real cost of using a car and using public transport continues to widen – by over 12% in only the last 8 years. The Transport policy group has proposed a range of policies to close this gap.

Steven Norris - Convenor, Transport Working Group

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Waste

Welcome to the Waste Working Group

Kay TwitchenThe waste working group has been established to examine every aspect of sustainable waste management.

We all see - and generate - rubbish every day. But they way we deal with it leaves much to be desired.

Over 81% of our waste ends up in landfill or is buried, just 11% is recycled, and 8% is incinerated. It is clear we need a step-change in the way we manage it: doing nothing is not an option.

But we need solutions that are not only good for the environment and but also good for business and for council tax payers.

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Water Working Group

Welcome to the Water Working Group

Water is essential for all forms of life; people, wildlife, food and recreation. It is a precious resource that must be managed wisely, especially when the climate and our use of water is changing.

As the United Kingdom alternates between drought and flood, we need to find a way of regaining balance, using water carefully and slowing down its journey from the sky to the sea.

The freshwater cycle has a natural pace as it flows through and across the land, but over the past decade the pace has accelerated to a dash from rain to storm water sewer.

The Quality of Life Policy Group will be consulting with the public and working with water experts from government bodies, environmental lobbyists and the water industry to explore sensible long term solutions and avoid panic engineering reactions that could eventually make matters worse.

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Welcome to the Wellbeing Working Group

Ali MirajHow best to improve the quality of life of all people should be the central question for any government.

Whilst the debate over how terms such as General Wellbeing (GWB), and Happiness should be defined and then enhanced has been taking place within academic circles for some time, it has yet to become an integral part of the policymaking process. This must change.

The Wellbeing Working Group is aiming for a new approach to solving the challenges our society faces.

 



 

Timetable

Our police group was established in December 2006. After 12 months, we are now entering the final stage of our work.

December 2005: Policy Group established by David Cameron. John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith appointed chair and vice-chair.

January 2006: Initial working groups established

March 2006: All working groups established

April 2006: Terms of reference published

May 2006: Initial consultation period

November 2006: Interim reports delivered

January 2007: Drafting and policy review

13 September 2007: Final submission to David Cameron

 



MEDIA COVERAGE

Cameron vows 'tough' green action

Friday, 9 December 2005 / news.bbc.co.uk/

Conservative leader David Cameron has set up a policy group on the environment to pave the way for "tough decisions" on cutting greenhouse gas.

The group, chaired by ex-Environment Secretary John Gummer and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, will look at "quality of life" issues.
Mr Cameron says he will finalise policies in 18 months' time following the group's recommendations.
Labour said policies, not "platitudes", were needed to help the environment.
The new policy group is one of six which Mr Cameron intends to set up to help decide future party policy.
Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is already looking at social justice, while former chancellor Ken Clarke is to head a "democracy taskforce".

Party structures

Mr Cameron has highlighted the environment, and in particular climate change, as a key area of concern.
He launched the policy review group at the London Wetland Centre where he met members of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist magazine, will work alongside Mr Gummer, meeting environmental groups to discuss policy proposals.
           
“ It is an invitation to be radical “ Zac Goldsmith Member of new policy group.
Mr Goldsmith was recently accepted on to the Conservatives' approved candidates' list.
Evidence given to the policy group will be published on the internet.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Cameron said the Conservatives needed to take 18 months to understand the challenges before announcing new policies.
"The real test will come in 18 months' time when we have to show we are prepared to take the tough decisions necessary to meet the carbon reduction targets and other environmental challenges," he said.

'Monks'

Mr Cameron said he believed in "green growth", arguing that environmentally-friendly measures did not have to stifle the economy.
"We don't want people to go and live like monks," he said.
           
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He suggested using more biofuels was one way of reducing pollution from cars.
Mr Cameron also wants a new independent carbon audit office to measure progress on meeting the target of cutting carbon emissions by 60% by 2050.
He said he was not worried about Labour stealing his policies - in fact, he wanted that to happen so action was taken.

'Punch and Judy'

Mr Goldsmith said the policy group would pull together existing ideas which were not being translated into political reality.
"It is an invitation to be radical," he said.
Tony Juniper, from Friends of the Earth, welcomed the group.
But he said: "Although the policy group will take 18 months to report, it is crucial for Mr Cameron and the Conservative party to continue to push for urgent political action on climate change."
Labour Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said Mr Cameron had failed to mention climate change when he wrote the last Tory election manifesto.
And he said the Conservatives had opposed many of the government's measures on the issue.
"The Tories need to set out new policies, not platitudes," said Mr Bradshaw. "Otherwise people will conclude that they are simply putting a new gloss on the same old policies."
Lib Dem environment spokesman Norman Baker said "Punch and Judy" politics was not delivering on these issues and cross-party consensus was needed.
"We welcome the fact that David Cameron has highlighted the issue so early in his tenure but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating," said Mr Baker.
The Green Party challenged Mr Cameron to commit a 12-point plan including calls for an end to aviation tax breaks, the road building programme to be scrapped and £2bn in "ecotaxes".

 

Geoffrey Lean: Green guns are Cameron's true-blue weapons

Sunday, 30 September 2007 / The Independent

Don't tell George Bush, Norman Tebbit – or even George Osborne – but the environment has long been a Conservative cause. Leftish pressure groups may make most of the noise, but most of the progress has been made by the Right.

Thus it was Ted Heath who set up one of the world's first Departments of the Environment and Richard Nixon, of all people, who established the United States' groundbreaking Environ-mental Protection Agency. The start of Margaret Thatcher's reign revived greenery after five Labour years of torpor, and by the end of it, the Iron Lady had become the first leader to take up the cause of global warming with passion.

Al Gore may have talked big but he did little in office and the Clinton administration disappointed. So did the last, Red-Green, German government: it has been the Conservative Angela Merkel who has led the world in pressing George Bush to shift his obstruction over climate change.

So despite George Osborne's denunciation last week of the Conservative "�ber-modernisers" who have put green issues at the heart of the Tories' appeal – and the rising of a shroud-waving Lord Tebbit from his political grave to denounce them as "unpopular" – David Cameron has been building on solid foundations in making the environment a Tory cause.

Despite the dismissal of the green initiatives as unpopular by political commentators – notably in the Murdoch press, in defiance of the old man's dramatic rebirth as a climate change campaigner earlier this year – they have so far been working. Cameron's wearing of the green projected a compassionate, progressive image, shot the Conservatives into poll leads for the first time in more than a decade, and even enabled him to win a local election landslide last year under the slogan "Vote Blue, Go Green".

The new Ipsos MORI poll, which we report today on page 2, bears this out. Britons, it shows, back proposals for green taxes, put forward this month by a policy group headed by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, by six to one. There are four-to-one majorities for higher taxes on gas-guzzlers and tax breaks for energy efficient homes – and a 49-to-20 per cent endorsement of halting the Government's plans to expand airports. And in almost every case the support among Conservatives exceeds that of the public at large.

The results challenge the almost universal media assumption that the proposals are "vote-losers", "daft" and a Tory rewriting of "the longest suicide note in history" – not to speak of the insistence of Tory right-wingers that they are "anti-Conservative".

Most such comment has focused on a few, far-out suggestions, such as taxing supermarket parking or removing the white lines from roads, but the 547-page "quality of life" policy review is nevertheless an extraordinarily sensible, thoughtful and detailed document. The Ends report, Britain's unexcitable leading environmental policy journal, rightly concluded last week: "Never has a mainstream party considered the mounting environmental crisis so widely or so deeply."

While dropping the supermarket parking tax, and other marginal proposals, Cameron has made it clear that much of the document will appear in the manifesto – and his intimates insist that will not change.

He would be wise to stick to his green guns. Spiking them now would cost him much credibility and – it appears – lose vital support at a time when he badly needs it. And firing them could inflict unexpected damage on a government that is, after all, Brown.

 



 

Press Releases

 

Greenpeace: 'Conservative quality of life report - Greenpeace response'

Thursday, 13 September 2007 / Greenpeace

Greenpeace today welcomed the Conservative's Quality of Life proposals on energy generation as a 'milestone in thinking'. The environment group also hailed the group's push to redefine progress beyond the narrow confines of economic growth.

As the report powerfully states - if society at large can shift its thinking away from 'what can I buy?' to 'what do I want from life?' or 'what needs do I have?' then perhaps we can decouple economic growth from resource input.

Calling for a low carbon revolution, the report calls Gordon Brown's bluff by showing how we can keep the lights on and cut CO2 without using nuclear power. The Tory report recommends a radical overhaul in the way Britain generates its electricity and heats its homes and businesses. The proposals would encourage local authorities and other communities to invest in local energy schemes, generating their own heat and electricity. Communities would receive seed funding to support the roll-out of combined heat and power plants and microgeneration.

A decentralised system is one in which electricity is produced near to where it is used, avoiding the huge waste associated with traditional power stations. Currently around two-thirds of the energy generated in a power station is lost in the form of wasted heat or in long distance transmission.

The tough efficiency measures also called for in the report cover cars, domestic appliances and inefficient light bulbs. The report calls for the UK to take a lead in setting efficiency targets to get the rest of Europe to follow. On aviation the report calls for a moratorium on runway expansion saying there should be a hold on all plans, including Heathrow's proposed third runway.

The main weakness in the report is its lack of clear support for large scale renewables - especially on-shore wind - and allowing coal-fired power plants to continue operation until 2025.

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said:

"This is a significant set of proposals, especially on decentralised energy and energy efficiency. The report recognises that we can power Britain while slashing our emissions and burying nuclear power for good. David Cameron should adopt the proposals for a low carbon revolution as policy."

He added:

"A moratorium on aviation expansion is a simple common sense policy demanded by the science of climate change. Any political party that builds new runways simply isn’t serious about tackling global warming."

 

Green Alliance: 'Goldsmith and Gummer show Cameron the way'

Green Alliance director Stephen Hale today gave a warm welcome to the report from the Conservative Quality of Life policy group.

"The Quality of Life report contains a clear vision and a remarkable array of imaginative policy proposals. David Cameron can and must back his ambition by committing to these policies."

"The Quality of Life report will no doubt be attacked by some. But they should read it first. It offers an astute mix of taxes and incentives that would help transform our society and economy to live within environmental limits and improve our quality of life."

Green Alliance particularly welcomes:

  • the strong recognition in the report for a step change in the ambition and action by central government;
  • support for a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 including aviation;
  • the vision of a zero waste economy, and proposals for new taxes and regulations that would make this vision a reality;
  • proposals for new taxes on car purchase and domestic flights to establish a low carton transport system; and
  • proposals for an end to motorway expansion.

 



 

ABOUT US

Zac Goldsmith

Zac GoldsmithZac Goldsmith has been the director and editor of The Ecologist magazine since 1997.

Before joining The Ecologist, Zac worked for a number of years with The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), based in California (USA), Bristol (UK), and Ladakh (India).  He remains an associate director of the organisation. 

In 2002 Zac was instrumental in founding campaigning organisation FARM - the independent voice of farmers, (www.farm.org.uk) to help narrow the gap between farmers and environmentalists, and producers and consumers.

In between his work with The Ecologist and Farm, Zac focuses on raising funds for groups around the world dealing with issues ranging from agriculture and energy to climate change, and trade. He helped to establish two foundations that derive funds from his own family, and two other foundations that raise funds from elsewhere with a view to distributing them to cutting edge campaign organisations.

Zac has participated in numerous television and radio programmes and his articles have been published in newspapers and journals throughout the world. In 2003 Zac was the recipient of the Beacon Prize for ‘Young Philanthropist of the YearÂ. In 2004, he received the Global green Award for ‘International Environmental Leadership’.

Zac runs an organic farm in Devon.

 

John Gummer

John Gummer read History at Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union and Chairman of the Conservative Association. After being elected to Parliament, John served in various positions, including as Employment Minister, Minister for Health and Safety and Minister for Local Government.

John became a Cabinet Minister, under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, serving as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food and then as Secretary of State for the Environment. He has had sixteen years of ministerial experience - one of only five people in the last 200 years who have held so long a tenure.

He played a vital part in the negotiations for the Uruguay whilst chairing the Council of Agriculture Ministers. He was instrumental in bringing environmental considerations to the heart of British Agricultural policy and then to the wider European CAP.

John was the UK Environmental Secretary from 1993-1997 where he played a key role in the "Convention on Climate Change" meetings held in Berlin and Geneva. The Secretary-General of the United Nations named him as one of a small Committee of Distinguished Persons advising on Habitat II (UN Conference on Human Settlements). In 1996, He was also elected Chairman of the Environmental Committee of the OECD by his fellow ministers. Friends of the Earth called him the best Environment Secretary they had ever had.

After his term as Secretary of State, John was awarded the Medal of Honour by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - the UK’s largest environmental organisation. He is the only Government Minister to have ever received this award..

John writes regularly for the Catholic Herald, Country Life , Estates Gazette and other magazines with a pronounced emphasis on environmental issues.

 

Board Members

Our Policy Group is overseen by a board of individual experts. Each member brings their own experience and expertise. From this page you can access biographies detailing their interests.

  • John Gummer - Chairman
  • Zac Goldsmith - Vice Chairman
  • Jules Peck - Director
  • Tim Eggar - Energy
  • Nick Hurd - Climate Change
  • Ali Miraj - Wellbeing
  • Steven Norris - Transport
  • Benet Northcote - Communications
  • Tom Oliver - Rural Affairs
  • David Strong - The Built Environment
  • Kay Twitchen - Waste
  • Kim Wilkie - Water


 


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