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It’s just a week since David Cameron said he was “absolutely committed” to running “the greenest government ever”. But, in one respect, at least, the coalition seems to be aiming lower than its Brown predecessor.

Four years ago, spurred on by Cameron’s own pushing of green issues up the agenda, the Labour government led the world by announcing that by 2016, all new housing would be zero-carbon (ie, it would contribute no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere once it had been built). Eighteen months later, it added that all new non-domestic buildings would have to reach that standard by 2019. These eminently practicable goals were actually proposed by the construction industry, working through the UK Green Building Council. But the coalition’s “programme for government” omits them – promising only “continuous improvements in the energy efficiency of new housing”, which has been happening for the past four decades, anyway.It does not look accidental. Recently, both the Tories and the Lib Dems have put enormous effort into working out how to bring in a low-carbon economy, and housing minister Grant Shapps has shadowed the job for three years, so will have been well aware of the targets.

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