DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Private firms are key to a greener planet

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Private firms are key to a greener planet

The Cop28 eco summit kicked off yesterday and King Charles’s well-received opening speech mercifully avoided the more apocalyptic rhetoric that inevitably punctuates this event.

The monarch, a lifelong environmental campaigner, was in no way blasé. He warned that the dangers posed by climate change were ‘no longer distant risks’. But there were no end-is-nigh pronouncements that ordinary citizens simply disbelieve.

World leaders are in Dubai to thrash out agreements on reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of fossil fuels, accelerating renewable energy and more funding to tackle the climate threat.

Rishi Sunak has faced intense criticism for rowing back on some green pledges.

But thanks to an aggressive green agenda, UK emissions are just 1 per cent of the global total. No major country has decarbonised faster since 1990 – or put in place more ambitious targets.

King Charles with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Unveiling a bumper investment deal in UK wind power, the Prime Minister rightly pointed out that for these goals to be achieved, the public has to be sure their lives won’t be harder and poorer as a result.

As renewables are intermittent, it is sensible for Mr Sunak to exploit our North Sea oil and gas reserves to keep the country going.

The innovative spirit of the private sector is the key to bridging the power gap – and bequeathing our children a cleaner planet.

Playground politics

In general, it is a good thing for children to be able to engage in politics. That is an important way of making the young feel they’ve got a stake in our society.

Nevertheless, it is deeply troubling that thousands of pupils – some as young as eight – are skipping classes to take part in pro-Palestine marches organised by the Left.

These so-called ‘school strikes’, which have taken place in several UK cities, are ostensibly in support of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It is deeply troubling that thousands of pupils – some as young as eight – are skipping classes to take part in pro-Palestine marches

But a new report from the Policy Exchange think-tank has revealed how children on the demos have been exposed to sickening anti-Semitism – some joining in with racist chants, others carrying placards.

Schools and teachers that allow pupils to miss lessons to participate in such activism should be brought firmly to book. They are not only damaging youngsters’ educations, but also breaching Government rules on impartiality and putting them at risk of being drawn into anti-Western extremism.

Parents who encourage children to bunk off should be penalised, too, for flouting school attendance rules. After all, if they took their kids on holiday during term-time, they would face a costly fine.

Yes, let pupils find their political voice. But that search should typically be confined to after the school gates close.

The school of envy

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has uncompromising advice to private schools alarmed at Labour’s plan to make them pay 20 per cent VAT and business rates.

Instead of hiking fees, which could see families withdraw children into state schools at considerable expense, she says the independent sector should cut costs.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has advised private schools to cut costs to fund Labour’s 20 per cent VAT plan instead of hiking fees

But there is a significant danger that Ms Phillipson’s spiteful class war policy would backfire. Last year, private schools gave away £1.2billion in assisted fees and entered into thousands of valuable partnerships with state schools around the country.

If they chose to heed her advice and make savings, that could mean less money for bursaries for poorer pupils, equipment and community projects, and more places reserved for the children of oligarchs.

Isn’t it typical of Labour? Education always playing second fiddle to ideology – and excellence and opportunity sacrificed on the altar of equality.

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