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Screen shot 2010-03-11 at 07.47.15 Yesterday saw the formal launch of the Conservative Environment Network. It's an independent group within the party but supported by shadow cabinet ministers, Nick Herbert and Greg Clark, who both attended last night's launch party.

On its homepage it announces its mission:

"Our aim is to “fight the good fight” within the conservative movement by making the case that climate change and other environmental issues are critically important and need to be tackled by effective government policy, private enterprise and Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit."

A fuller statement of the CEN's aims can be found on this page.

Retiring Tory MP Peter Ainsworth explains the CEN's purpose on Platform 10. He takes on the climate change sceptics:

"Disputes about the science of manmade climate change may be rife, but they are entirely irrelevant.  It might be suggested that only a brave or very foolish person (or a publicity-seeker) would take issue with the consensual opinion of the world’s leading scientists – but in the end this too is irrelevant. The point is this:  waste of any kind is a bad thing, so we must stop wasting energy, food and material resources.  Fossil fuels are finite, so we must find ways of being less dependent upon them, and sooner rather than later.  Natural resources are limited, not limitless as we in the West have implicitly regarded them for two-hundred years, so we must start trying to obey the laws of Nature.  If Nature goes bust, there will be no bail out."

The rest of his piece argues that capitalism and conservatism are the true friends of the planet. Mr Ainsworth concludes with these words:

"The true friends of the Earth are gradually emerging, and they are not those who spend their time screaming at the capitalist system. They are those who respect our duty of stewardship over the natural environment we have inherited, and embrace capitalism as the most powerful tool for change on the planet."

> Today on CentreRight: Conservatives and the environment – the next step in a long tradition

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