Q. How many Liberal Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. One. They stand perfectly still, hold the lightbulb in the socket and wait for the earth to revolve around them.*

So the world turns and yet another long-held Lib Dem policy edges its way further towards the mainstream…

Yesterday the cross-parliamentary Committee for Climate Change made a recommendation to the squeaky new Minister for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband that CO2 emissions be cut to 80% of 1990 levels by the middle of the century, rather than the 60% being proposed in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill.

The Liberal Democrat aim, as any fule kno, is to make Britain entirely carbon-free by 2050, with the Green Tax Switch laying the vital ground work. Our tabled amendment to the Climate Change Bill happens to also raise the target for CO2 emission cuts to 80%, but if Miliband is as willing to lap up the CCC report as the Guardian editorial seems to think, perhaps it won’t be needed.

But a target, as the editorial points out, is one thing, and taking the practical steps to achieve it is another. The notion that markets can drive CO2 reductions if the incentives are pointing the right way is not, to my mind, as busted as the editorial simplistically claims. Incentives do work as effectively in a recession as out of one (that’s why they’re called incentives) – they’re just likely to look different. It’s rather silly to suggest that a market in a downturn can’t achieve anything – it’s “achieving” plenty, isn’t it. You just need different incentives, and non-contradictory ones, created across the board of government operations. Like, er, ooh, I know, the Green Tax Switch!

As Steve Webb puts it:

It will be interesting to see if the new department takes over the remaining stages of the Climate Change Bill and accepts our amendment to toughen it up. Perhaps at long last energy efficiency will be taken seriously instead of being a cinderella.

All we need to do now is include transport, building standards, green taxation in the Department’s remit and we might be getting somewhere!

* Wouldn’t work for bayonets, of course. But it’s the principle of the thing.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Alix Mortimer 8th Oct '08 - 4:29pm

    Well, quite. A bayonet fitting would require the answer to be: “They stand perfectly still, hold the lightbulb in the socket and wait for the earth to revolve around them a bit, then cheat to the left slightly and do a little wiggle.”

    I’ve also realised that there are profound practical difficulties with my assertion that Britain should be a carbon-free place by 2050. Ho well.

  • How many Politicians should it take to change a light bulb?

    How many Citizens should be allowed to choose?

    (from http://ceolas.net/
    against the ban on incandescent light bulbs, final words)

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 26th Oct - 12:34am
    You need someone experienced - perhaps one of those who were unseated in 2015. Ed Davey? Jo Swinson?
  • User AvatarMichael BG 26th Oct - 12:26am
    On my first reading of the RSA scheme, they have kept disability benefits out of it and suggested a way to ensure that the poorest...
  • User AvatarJoebourke 25th Oct - 11:21pm
    Excellent article Helen around an increasingly important issue. This policy needs to be dovetailed with a long overdue reform of the tax and national insurance...
  • User AvatarConor McGovern 25th Oct - 11:19pm
    We should at least be exploring this as radical Liberals.
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 25th Oct - 11:17pm
    This is an election the prospects for which , by our party should not be talked up. Goldsmith is going to stand unopposed and win...
  • User AvatarConor McGovern 25th Oct - 11:16pm
    We're the progressive voice predominantly in the south just as Labour's the voice predominantly in the north. We need to be consistent, liberal, democratic and...