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Fit for the future?

The Green Standard 2007–08 review of the parties


Fit for the future? The Green Standard 2007–08 review of the parties

Fit for the future? The Green Standard 2007–08 review of the parties

This review has been conducted by CPRE, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and WWF.

Published by Green Alliance, September 2008 Designed by Hyperkit Printed by Seacourt © Green Alliance 2008

978-1-905869-14-5 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Green Alliance. Within the UK, exceptions are allowed in respect of any fair dealing for the purposes of private research or study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms of the licenses issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

Contents

Executive summary Introduction Conservative Party Labour Party Liberal Democrats

2 6 8 12 18


Executive summary 2006–07 saw a surge of public and political attention on climate change and to a lesser extent other environmental issues. A year on, some politicians seem to believe that the economic downturn and rising cost of living reduce the importance of action on the environment. The May local elections and the downturn were seen by some as marking the end of the environment as a public and political priority. That view is wrong. The public have not abandoned their concern for the environment. Indeed the reverse is true, as a July Guardian/ICM poll confirmed.1 The current crisis is a crisis for an oil-dependent world. The choice is not between the environment and the economy. The choice is whether or not to move to an economy that is not reliant on carbon-based fuels and that will achieve a secure environmental and economic future. Political parties choose how they respond to the challenges they face. A government fit for the future would use the current economic downturn as an opportunity to prepare Britain for the challenges ahead by making the switch to a low-carbon economy and preparing us for the inevitable impacts of climate change. Governments must ensure their economies are well placed to manage the changes that are needed. The only long-term way out of the downturn is an ambitious climate change strategy, which would involve a radical transformation of energy, transport, land management, housing and economic policy. But such a response calls for far greater leadership, vision and courage than we have seen from any of the three main parties in recent months. Despite continuing green rhetoric, we’ve seen a retreat on this agenda by politicians unwilling to advocate the crucial steps to tackle climate change and other environmental problems for fear of media criticism and electoral unpalatability. Food security and built development have also been increasingly prominent issues this year, resulting in rising demands being placed on our limited land and natural resources. All parties should do more to ensure that farming is sustainable, and that development does not destroy our quality of life. Our wildlife and landscape should be maintained and enhanced. Where do you think the government’s main priorities should be between growing global economic and growing environmental problems? 52% said on tackling environmental issues, 44% said on tackling economic problems. Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/02/climatechange.ethicalliving 1

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Conservative Party In the first 18 months of David Cameron’s leadership, the environment was a defining issue. But the Conservatives’ approach to the environment in 2007–08 has been more presentation than substance, and the issue has had a far lower profile. Most of the party’s highpoints have been speeches and the gap between their aspirations and commitments is increasingly alarming. Much clearer plans are needed on how the Conservatives would deliver their environmental commitments. Cameron’s ‘Blue/Green charter’ speech this June deserves praise, since he was the first party leader to say the environment must be central to our response to the economic downturn. We also welcome the party’s opposition to unabated coal and its commitment to a greenhouse gas standard that would ensure Kingsnorth and subsequent coal plants are not built. But top of our list of low points is the failure to mention the environment or climate change in a statement on priorities for a future Conservative government following the May elections. We are also concerned by the lack of any high profile speeches or initiatives on the natural environment and disappointed by the failure to move forward on some of the welcome recommendations of the Quality of Life Commission’s report.

Labour Party Over the past year, the UK government’s approach to climate change and other environmental issues has been contradictory and incoherent. The draft renewables strategy has done something to redeem Labour’s record on climate change. But agreeing to a new unabated coal power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent could signal a new era of dirty coal, and would seriously undermine the UK’s climate change targets. We are also concerned by the planning bill and sub-national review, which taken together threaten to impose a strong economic bias in planning decisions and severely undermine democratic accountability. There has been some encouraging rhetoric on the economy and the environment from the prime minister and other ministers. But the government has not challenged the view expressed by some, that rising domestic and motor fuel prices are a greater priority than tackling climate change. It should have used the rise in fuel prices as an opportunity to push forward on policies to reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, which is causing the current pain. The government has failed to respond with new policies which provide a win-win for cutting both household bills and carbon emissions. It has even encouraged the view that there is a trade-off between social and environmental objectives, for example, in August when Malcolm Wicks said, “we are not going to sacrifice fuel poverty on the altar of climate change”. 3


Liberal Democrats The Liberal Democrats’ traditional lead on the environment has waned at points in 2007–08. Over the past year, the party has been markedly quieter and has led with less vigour on climate change and other environmental issues. Nick Clegg’s recent commitment to make the UK energy independent and zero carbon by 2050 was therefore very welcome. The proposals were brave and bold and the kind of leadership we expect from the Liberal Democrats. Other high points include the setting up of a working group in March to review the party’s policies on the natural environment, following the Green Standard’s assessment last year.

Our challenge to party leaders We call on all party leaders in their party conference speeches to say the environment will continue to be a priority despite the economic downturn, and to commit to our proposals on the natural environment, energy efficiency, renewables, coal and aviation:

We have not identified any specific low points where the Liberal Democrats have taken an anti-environment position over the past twelve months. But we are concerned by the decline in profile and priority given to environmental issues, from the party that has so often led the way. With the exception of Nick Clegg’s announcement on energy, the Liberal Democrats have not been making the political weather on the environment as they have done in the past. We need the party to be more visible over the next twelve months and to set the pace on environmental issues, particularly in the run-up to the next general election.

Yes to a massive uplift in energy efficiency through major public investment and action to radically improve the energy performance of existing homes

We can and need to chart a better course and come out of this storm with a greener economy and society. Environmental issues are not yesterday’s problem, but today’s imperative for the future.

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Yes to valuing, protecting and enhancing the natural environment and securing the benefits it provides Cartoon : Reproduced by kind permission of PRIVATE EYE magazine / Simon Meyrick Jones

A greener world beyond the downturn Our leaders need to see us through a tough short-term transition and into a greener world beyond the downturn. As Lord Stern said recently of climate change, “we will go through many economic cycles on the way to solving this problem. It’s a longterm issue”. An economic downturn must not delay the transition to a low-carbon economy or lessen respect for the natural world. We don’t have time. Climate science demands urgent action, if we are to limit global temperature rise to a maximum of two degrees. We face far more severe recessions than this if we don’t tackle the environmental crisis now.

Yes to delivering 15 per cent of UK energy from appropriate renewable sources by 2020

No to new unabated coal power stations No to expansion of airport capacity at Stansted or Heathrow.

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The Green Standard: tests for environmental leadership UK action on climate change Achieve reductions in UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least three per cent year on year, en route to a low-carbon economy based on energy efficiency, renewable sources of energy and decentralised energy. International action on climate change Provide international leadership to restrict global temperature rises to 2°C and ensure worldwide emissions are falling by 2015. Green living Make it cheaper and easier for individuals to reduce their environmental impact through tax, regulation, information and other powers of government. Natural environment Protect and enhance the beauty, accessibility and wildlife of the environment in our countryside, towns and seas through incentives, regulation, investment and other powers of government.

Introduction This report is the collective analysis of nine leading environment groups on what we see as the highs and lows of the past twelve months (September 2007–August 2008) for the three main political parties on the environment. Our analysis focuses on the issues identified in The Green Standard: Tests for environmental leadership launched in February 2007. We also consider the impact that the economic downturn, rising oil prices and increases in the cost of living have had on each party’s approach to environmental issues. Our intention has not been to compare and contrast the parties directly, but to look at each party in turn and assess their environmental performance. The scope of our assessment is focused on Westminster, and does not include parties or actions by the devolved administrations or in local government.

Planning Value, support and develop our planning system as a democratic tool for protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment of our countryside and towns. Environmental tax and subsidies Green the tax system by increasing the amount of revenue from taxes that reduce environmental damage, and eliminate environmentally perverse subsidies.

In September 2007, we produced How green are our parties? The Green Standard report, which assessed the three main parties against the set of issues identified in the six tests. We have chosen not to assess the parties in the same way this time. Too little has changed and there are serious questions over the extent to which any party is fit for the future. We plan to publish at least one further assessment before the next general election, potentially in spring 2009. 6

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Highs and Lows of the Conservative Party on the Environment Sept 2007 – Aug 2008

Cameron says “we cannot afford not to go green” (June 2008)

With the Conservatives enjoying a significant lead in the polls they need to have a plan for what they would do in office, as they will need to start implementing farreaching policies from day one. Currently Conservative policies on the environment are neither deep nor broad enough. Much clearer plans are needed on how the Conservatives would deliver their environmental commitments. In terms of high points, Cameron’s ‘Blue/Green charter’ speech in June deserves praise, since he was the first party leader to say the environment must be central to our response to the economic downturn. But we have yet to see real policy substance behind this statement. We welcome the party’s opposition to unabated coal and its commitment to a greenhouse gas standard that would ensure Kingsnorth coal plant and further coal capacity is not built. We also acknowledge the support of the Conservative frontbench in fighting for our concerns during the passage of the planning bill in the Commons, and for their active support for a marine bill and to the stopping of scallop dredging in Lyme Bay. At the top of our list of low points is the failure to mention the environment or climate change at a press conference spelling out priorities for a future Conservative government following the May elections. Though not included in our list of low points below, we are also concerned by the lack of any high profile speeches or initiatives on the natural environment. David Cameron’s keynote environment speech in June, for instance, did not mention the natural environment. 8

lows

The Conservatives’ focus on the environment in 2007–08 has been strong on presentation but weak on substance. In the first 18 months of David Cameron’s leadership, the environment was a defining issue, but it has had a far lower profile in the past year. Most of the Conservative highpoints have been broad speeches, rather than firm commitments. This is evidence of the party’s failure to mainstream the environment fully. Speeches on the environment by senior Conservatives are good in isolation but they need to be reflected in statements and commitments across the party.

Highs

Conservative Party

Conservatives say “no” to dirty coal

Osborne sets out framework for tackling climate change (July 2008)

Failure to identify the environment as a future Conservative priority (May 2008)

Quality of Life review sidelined

Uncomfortable truth – Tory climate sceptics still going strong

Consistent opposition to green taxes as stealth taxes

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LOWS Failure to identify the environment as a future Conservative priority (May 2008) The Conservatives’ success in the May 2008 local elections was in David Cameron’s words a “very big moment” for the Party. But he made no mention of green issues when he set out the priorities of a future Conservative government at a press conference in the aftermath of the election. David Cameron failed to talk about “climate change” or the “environment” at any point in the 1200 word statement; a stark departure from “vote blue, go green”. That the issue which defined Cameron’s leadership and modernisation of the Conservative Party was not mentioned was a serious omission.

HIGHS Cameron says “we cannot afford not to go green” (June 2008) In a well-timed speech, David Cameron offered reassurance that the Conservatives would not downgrade the environment when economic times are hard. The first party leader to do so, he made a strong case for environmental policy as the way through the current pressures - “we cannot afford not to go green”. With the country facing its toughest economic times in years and after a period without significant Conservative environmental initiatives, the speech was much needed. But we do still need to see more policy substance on how the Conservatives would go about reconfiguring our economy in order to “wean ourselves off fossil fuels and go green”. Conservatives say “no” to dirty coal We strongly support the Conservative Party’s opposition to dirty coal over the past twelve months. In December last year, David Cameron ruled out unabated coal during a trip to China. More recently the Conservatives have proposed a standard to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that power plants emit, which would make new coal plants such as Kingsnorth unbuildable unless they incorporate carbon capture and storage. We welcome this commitment but would still urge the Conservatives to set the standard at a higher level. Osborne sets out framework for tackling climate change (July 2008) George Osborne’s speech to Green Alliance this summer was the first substantive description of the Conservatives’ approach to tackling climate change at home by a senior member of the shadow cabinet. There was a lot to welcome in his analysis of the role of emissions trading, green taxation and incentives for technology development and behavioural change. But there is still much to do to flesh out what this would mean in practice and to develop an approach that delivers. More could and should be done on the role of Europe and of regulation. But it was encouraging to hear his commitment to more work across many areas, so that a Conservative government is ready to “drive forward the environmental agenda from day one”. 10

Quality of Life review sidelined In September last year, the Quality of Life Commission published its report to the Conservative Party. The report contains a clear vision and a mix of taxes and incentives that would help transform our society and economy to live within environmental limits and improve our quality of life. It has therefore been a huge disappointment that over the past twelve months the Conservative Party has not backed the ambition of the report nor made firm commitments to the policies within it. The Conservatives have said they are taking a “drip drip” approach to adopting the report’s policies, but this will not realise the report’s ambitious agenda. Uncomfortable truth – Tory climate sceptics still going strong The science on climate change is clear, but too many Conservative MPs are still sceptical. A third of Tory MPs who responded to a ComRes survey, released in July, questioned the existence of climate change and its link to human activity (there was scepticism across the political parties but it was most pronounced in the Conservative Party). David Cameron’s emphasis on the environment has had a significant influence on green politics over recent years, but this poll shows he needs to work harder to win the battle within his own party. Consistent opposition to green taxes as stealth taxes Despite Conservative support for green taxes the party has failed to put forward any significant green tax proposals over the past year. And consistent opposition to green taxes as “stealth taxes” has done a lot to damage public support for such policy. Whilst the Conservatives would say they support green taxes done properly, this has not come across in their messages. Nowhere is this more so than in waste. The policy of offering an incentive to people who recycle more, combined with charges for those who do not do their fair share, has support from the Local Government Association and many councils as a measure to increase recycling and reduce the cost of landfill to the taxpayer. The government has made it clear that such schemes will not allow councils to earn extra money. But the Conservatives have opposed variable charging through an inflammatory tabloid-driven campaign, whose characterisation of the schemes as an “extra stealth tax” has precluded proper debate and generated a great deal of public opposition. 11


Highs and Lows of the Labour Party on the Environment Sept 2007 – Aug 2008

There has been some encouraging rhetoric on the economy and the environment from the prime minister and other ministers. But the government has not challenged the view expressed by some, that rising domestic and motor fuel prices are a greater priority than tackling climate change. It should have used the rise in fuel prices as an opportunity to push forward on policies to reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, which is causing the current pain. The government has failed to respond with new policies which provide a win-win for cutting both household bills and carbon emissions. It has even encouraged the view that there is a trade-off between social and environmental objectives, for example, in August when Malcolm Wicks said, “we are not going to sacrifice fuel poverty on the altar of climate change”. The draft renewables strategy has done something to redeem Labour’s record on climate change, and Labour has fulfilled its promise to introduce the climate change bill in this legislative session. And though not mentioned as a specific high below, we acknowledge that the UK’s international position on climate change is still one of the strongest globally. There have also been a number of highs on other environmental issues, in particular the publication of the draft marine bill (at last) and Defra’s decision on badger culling in England. But we are concerned that the prime minister has been silent on the importance of wildlife and nature. We also welcome Gordon Brown’s challenge on 12

Highs

Over the past year, the government’s approach to climate change and other environmental issues has been contradictory and incoherent. Gordon Brown is now belatedly focusing on some of the solutions that are needed through a far more aggressive push on renewable energy and energy efficiency. But he has also showed a lack of courage to make hard decisions on crucial issues such as coal and airport expansion. Now is the time for brave leadership. There are grounds for concern that this is lacking.

lows

Labour Party

A vision for clean power ambitious draft renewables strategy published (June 2008)

Progress in protecting our wildlife, countryside and seas

A framework for future action – climate change bill introduced

Inadequate action on biofuels

Brown visits Jeddah to plead for oil (June 2008)

Planning for disaster – government reforms threaten biased and undemocratic approach to development

John Hutton fails to rule out dirty coal

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behaviour change to the National Trust and B&Q in November last year, which has led to an initiative that has the potential to stimulate mass mobilisation of individual action on the environment. Top of our list of lowlights for 2007–08 is the government’s failure to rule out a new unabated coal power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent, which could signal a new era of dirty coal that would undermine the government’s climate change targets. We are also concerned by the planning bill and sub-national review, which taken together threaten to severely undermine democratic accountability and impose a strong economic bias in key planning decisions. Finally, though not specifically identified as a low point below, we want to state our concern that Labour has failed to win public support for green taxes. By not linking the revenue raised by green taxes to spending that helps people make greener choices or to targeted tax cuts elsewhere, the government has fed a public view that environmental taxation is smokescreen to help general revenue raising by the Treasury.

We are looking to see strong leadership from Gordon Brown in persuading the private sector this is for real so that they invest the billions of pounds required. Without this leadership there is a real risk that the strategy will not be achievable. In the shorter term, it is worrying to see the government continues to oppose the introduction of small and medium scale feed-in tariffs in this year’s energy bill, a test case for its commitment to renewables, and has sought to weaken the EU Directive on renewables. We also want to see a plan-led approach to locating necessary infrastructure, taking account of wider environmental objectives and the need for effective public involvement. Progress in protecting our wildlife, countryside and seas Over the past year there have been a number of high points on the natural environment. The marine bill in particular has been a major achievement (although at the time of writing it remains a draft bill; it is imperative that it is included in the Queen’s speech 2008). The landmark bill will open up our coasts and is vital to protect the UK’s seas and marine wildlife for future generations. The challenge now is to implement an effective system of marine protected areas by 2012. There have also been a couple of brave decisions taken by Defra: to avoid culling of badgers, one of Britain’s most loved mammals, in England; and to stop scallop dredging and bottom trawling to protect coral reefs in Lyme Bay. We also warmly welcome Hilary Benn’s speech in July on “Why the natural environment matters”. The speech legitimated the value we all place on the natural world: “We have always known that the natural environment sustains our souls, but we have now come to understand that it also sustains our very existence”. But the government must now act upon this speech as, despite the progress identified above, Natural England’s latest State of the Natural Environment report says England’s natural environment is “much less rich than 50 years ago”. The natural environment is of immense value and concern to the British public. It should be central to the Foresight study on land use futures. Leadership from Gordon Brown and an overall strategy on the natural environment is badly needed.

HIGHS A vision for clean power – ambitious draft renewables strategy published (June 2008) The draft renewable energy strategy was a long-awaited and badly needed affirmation of a new UK commitment to the development of clean, green energy. It sets out an ambitious plan to enable the UK to meet its target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. It must be remembered that it is only a consultation document. But if the final strategy matches the ambition in the consultation it could be the biggest breakthrough we’ve had towards a low-carbon economy. 14

A framework for future action – climate change bill introduced Labour has fulfilled its earlier promise to introduce the climate change bill in this legislative session, the first piece of legislation of its type in the world. The government has made changes to the bill for the better – the inclusion of annual indicators and the widening of provisions on UK adaptation. However a number of big issues still threaten the robustness of the bill. The bill’s current 2050 target is still at odds with the overwhelming scientific evidence, there is no solid commitment to aviation and shipping being included and no commitment to deliver emission cuts at home rather than overseas. We await the outcome of the final stages to see whether or not the government will deliver truly effective legislation. 15


Planning for disaster - government reforms threaten biased and undemocratic approach to development The planning bill and sub-national review of English regional governance are fundamental reforms, which are primarily economically driven. They threaten to undermine the balance of economic, social and environmental goals in planning decisions. In June, the government rejected two important amendments to the planning bill, which would have helped ensure new major infrastructure cut carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change. The new planning bill will also undermine public involvement in key planning decisions by giving responsibility to the unelected and unaccountable Infrastructure Planning Commission for decisions on new power stations, roads, airports and other big developments. This also increases the likelihood of the expansion of Heathrow and Stansted, which would be incompatible with the government’s climate change targets.

LOWS John Hutton fails to rule out dirty coal Kingsnorth is one of the most important climate change decisions of Gordon Brown’s premiership. Giving the go-ahead to a new unabated coal plant, which would be the first in Britain for 30 years, would lock Britain into a high-emissions future and severely undermine the government’s climate change targets. A concerted and coordinated effort by government to move to a low-carbon economy is of the utmost urgency and John Hutton has a central role to play in this. Not ruling out unabated coal shows a serious lack of concern for the urgency of dealing with climate change. It also sends the wrong signal to countries like China and India, and could thwart a new global deal on climate change. The government must rule out unabated coal and lead by example in the global response to climate change by committing wholeheartedly to non-fossil fuel alternatives.

Inadequate action on biofuels The government has continued to support increased uptake of biofuels, at a slower rate than initially planned in the UK, because evidence shows that biofuels would be unlikely to provide carbon savings and are contributing to rising food prices and biodiversity loss. The government launched the Gallagher Review into the indirect impacts of biofuels, which recommended slowing UK biofuels policies. The review should have gone further, but this recommendation remains significant. The Gallagher review also recommended capping the EU target at near half its proposed level, pending a future review. The government should have explicitly stated that it would oppose the EU target given that standards cannot at present guarantee sustainable delivery. Its position is still unclear on this, while other member states and MEPs are reconsidering their support and considering alternative options.

Brown visits Jeddah to plead for oil (June 2008) Gordon Brown was the only world leader to attend the Jeddah summit in June, where he pleaded for higher oil production from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries. The prime minister says he wants to show world leadership on climate change but this trip flies in the face of the need for urgent climate action. Instead of calling for more oil, he should use the world stage to underline his commitment to the only long-term solution: shifting to a non-fossil fuel economy and changing our patterns of energy consumption. 16

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Highs and Lows of the Liberal Democrats on the Environment Sept 2007 – Aug 2008

Liberal Democrats

Other highpoints we have identified for 2007–08 include the setting up of a working group in March to review the party’s policies on the natural environment. In our assessment of the parties last year, we were critical of the Liberal Democrats’ policies on the natural environment, therefore we strongly welcome this initiative. We also applaud the party’s consistent work on the climate change bill.

Highs

Nick Clegg’s recent announcement on proposals to make the UK energy independent and zero carbon by 2050 was therefore very welcome. It was the first significant policy commitment on the environment by Nick Clegg since becoming leader. It was brave and bold and the kind of leadership we expect from the Liberal Democrats. We are looking to see this continue and for the environment to be at the heart of the party’s future priorities.

lows

For most of the past twelve months, the Liberal Democrats have been markedly quieter on climate change and other environmental issues than they have been in recent years. As a result, there has been concern that the party’s commitment and determination on the environment has cooled.

Review of natural environment policy launched (March 2008)

Clegg sets out plans to make UK energy independent by 2050 (August 2008)

Lib Dems strengthen the climate change bill

Lib Dem leadership on the environment wanes

We have not identified any specific low points where the Liberal Democrats have taken an anti-environment position. But as stated above, we have been concerned that for much of the past year the Liberal Democrats have not been making the political weather on the environment as they have done in the past. For instance, given the threat to environmental issues presented by the economic downturn, we would anticipate the Liberal Democrats to be leading the charge for an accelerated transition to a low-carbon economy. But this has not been the case. Now more than ever, we need the Liberal Democrats to continue to act as environmental frontrunners. 18

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HIGHS Review of natural environment policy launched (March 2008) Earlier this year, Nick Clegg set up a new policy working group on the natural environment to “provide a comprehensive package of proposals to combat the challenges facing our biosphere”. In our assessment of the parties last September we awarded the Liberal Democrats a red light for their lack of a coherent and progressive agenda on the natural environment. We therefore strongly welcome this initiative and recognition of the need to develop clear commitments to act. We look forward to the outcome of the review. But we would also like to see the Liberal Democrats tackle other environmental issues with the same level of urgency and priority as climate change before then.

thereby ensuring the bulk of our emissions reductions are delivered domestically. They have also maintained a strong line on the need for aviation and shipping to be included in the bill and for an 80 per cent emissions reduction target by 2050.

LOWS Lib Dem leadership on the environment wanes We have not identified any specific low points where the Liberal Democrats have taken an anti-environment position over the past twelve months. But we have been concerned by the decline in profile and priority given to environmental issues, from the party that has so often led the way. In 2006–07, the Liberal Democrats led the climate change agenda through high profile initiatives such as the “Green tax switch” and their Zero carbon Britain policy paper. But for most of this year, they have failed to have the same impact. Nick Clegg’s recent announcement on energy independence was extremely welcome. But before the announcement, there had been no distinctive new initiatives on the environment from the new leader, and the Liberal Democrats’ traditional lead on the environment was starting to slip. We need the Liberal Democrats to be more visible over the next twelve months and to set the pace on environmental issues, particularly in the run up to the next general election.

Clegg sets out plans to make UK energy independent by 2050 (August 2008) Recently Nick Clegg called for a green revolution “on the scale of the Apollo moon landings” to make the UK energy independent and zero carbon by 2050. Building on the ambitious Zero carbon Britain policy paper adopted at last year’s autumn party conference, he set out far-reaching proposals which include stopping the development of new coal and nuclear, and massive investment in renewables and energy efficiency. He also characterised the energy gap not as a catastrophe but “a tremendous opportunity to replace a huge chunk of high-carbon energy sources with low-carbon alternatives”. We strongly welcome these commitments, which reflect the urgency and ambition needed to secure a sustainable energy future. Lib Dems strengthen the climate change bill The Liberal Democrats consistent work on the climate change bill over the past twelve months has strengthened the legislation. Crucially, the Liberal Democrats have introduced a successful amendment to the bill in the Lords, which imposes limits on how many carbon credits the UK will be able to purchase from abroad, 20

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For more information contact: greenstandard@green-alliance.org.uk www.thegreenstandard.org.uk

Fit for the Future? The 2007-08 Green Standard Review of the Parties  

This review sets out what the nine leading environment groups collectively see as the highs and lows of the past twelve months, between Sept...

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