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.
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.
David Cameron invited two of the UK's leading environmentalists, John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, to lead the Quality of Life Policy Group.
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.
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.
Welcome to the Climate Change working group
We 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
Welcome to the Energy working group
The 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
Food, Farming and Rural Affairs
Welcome to the Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Working Group
Welcome 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
- 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
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
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
Welcome to the Waste Working Group
The 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.
Certain kinds of waste require special treatment and regulation. The most well know is nuclear waste. But a much more common form is the waste generated by health care facilities, doctors' offices, and medical labs doing research. Medical waste disposal requires careful attention to process, accreditation and business practices. We continue to study this problem and have in place some solutions already in play. To see a more detailed picture, see this example from AdvoWasteMedical.com. Waste management is more than garbage disposal and an informed citizenry is important to making sure we keep everyone safe from biohazardous waste.
But we need solutions that are not only good for the environment and but also good for business and for council tax payers.
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.
Welcome to the Wellbeing Working Group
How 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.
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
Zac 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 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.
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