Last Thursday, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, released her plans for a 25-year siege on plastics, in an ill-founded attempt to secure a green, environmentally friendly future for Britain. After a failed cabinet reshuffle, and pressures mounting readily on the Prime Minister, it is easy to see why she should want to unveil a plan that would try to protect her legacy, and distract the public from the true disasters of her government.
This plan, that originates from such an organic, and all-important topic, has been under fire from critics as they claim it doesn’t go far enough. There are many issues with the Prime Ministers’ plans, first of many is that there is no legislation to provide a backbone to her words. The speech on Green Britain may as well have been conceited and calculated campaign trail rhetoric.
Anything that furthers the cause for recycling, reducing waste and above all, reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions should be applauded- but without a guarantee, and an awfully long time for any goals to be achieved makes this seem like a weak act in order to attract new potential voters. In the last general election, the Conservatives failed to attract the youth vote, and showing an inclination to environmental consciousness could reel in a greater proportion of the youth vote.
The blueprints of her plan suggest that this war is focussed around one battlefield: plastic. As important an issue that may be, and its importance cannot be stressed enough- this isn’t a very appealing offer for helping the environmental landscape. She isn’t offering funding for renewable energy projects, or renewable agriculture, or cutting-edge technologies such as Carbon Capture Solutions. She is instead pursuing a fight to rid our convenience at the local supermarket.
Another reason is that it is clear that it’s a 25-year plan with a sole focus on one environmental issue- a plan that spans this length of time should have simultaneous implementation of other environmental sustaining solutions. The plan itself is ambiguous- claiming a war on plastic without really knowing how we will conquer the rubbish heap.
Her plan to deliver lacks both depth and direction. Whilst there was talk on the current plastic bag levy (which despite taking credit, was an EU directive), she also planted the possibility of extending this onto plastic coffee cups and perhaps introducing a plastic tax in general, to stop excessive use of plastic packaging. The issue with the increased plastic tax is that it will harm small British businesses- most of which that are already fed up with the uncertainty brought by her premiership.
As the Labour party continues to fight on as the ‘government in waiting’, it seems that the Prime Minister wants to steal votes from younger voters who may have a vested interest in the environment. Her problem is that her promises are falling onto flat ears, and this hasty case of rebranding is not going to easily sway the minds of millions of voters. Acknowledging that she has to do more than deliver Brexit, the Prime Minister is scuttling around trying to get her claws on anything that will make her legacy more palatable.
Without any new, innovative and creative solutions to the problems she has addressed, how can she claim that this 25-year plan will lead to significant change and transform this country into a greener Britain, far less one with a brighter future. The plan doesn’t address the bigger issues that face climate change and does nothing to better our involvement in environmentally sustainable efforts in any significant measure.
It seems that the Prime Minister is trying to go onto the offensive with her legacy, or possibly her ability to fight in the next General Election. With Brexit proving more difficult every day, and the feuds and quarrels within the Government and her part show that she has no control- she desperately needs some good to win voters, and show that she can fight in the next General Election. Taking the fight away from the Europe, away from her cabinet and away from her party, and leading the charge against plastic bottles and shopping bags.
As previously said, any plan that promotes any form of environmental conservation should have its merit, as it is what is needed in the country. A plan with this scope however, proves that the government are not willing to take the necessary steps to secure the environmental future of our country. Her whole speech seemed like it was angled towards a party conference speech, in an attempt to show that the government is taking hold of domestic issues- giving her peace of mind whilst she ignores the challenges of Brexit and the NHS winter crisis.
It seems that she has tried to deliver the ultimate distraction- but her critics are not foolish enough to have their eyes taken away from the real news of her administration. It is clear that this is a step in the right direction, but there is more that could have been done, and more to be done. Whilst this is a welcomed step that will get us closer to an Eden-esque Britain, it is clear that this plan does not stretch nearly enough, and is merely dipping its toes in the water.