Tag Archives: environment

The Independent View: Will Liberal Democrats remain the greenest party?

Since 2010 it has been clear that energy and the environment are policy areas where the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have distinct views and voices within the coalition. The recent reshuffle of blue ministers, removing one of the Tories’ few true renewable energy supporters in Greg Barker, gave further evidence of this differentiation.

Now, as we look to the next five years, it is time for the parties to be clear on their commitment to a greener economy. The major renewable energy trade associations – representing wind, solar, biogas, hydropower and more – have launched a series of manifesto tests which will determine whether the parties are committed to decarbonising our energy system.

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Baroness Kate Parminter writes….5p charge on “icons of throwaway society is a victory for the environment”

Welcome to Portreath.It’s great to see the Queens Speech include a commitment to reduce the use of plastic bag carriers to help protect the environment.  It’s an issue I’ve campaigned on since I came to the Lords in 2010.

We used 7 billion single use carrier bags in UK supermarkets in 2012.  Plastic bags are highly visible litter on our streets and in our countryside; pose a threat to wildlife and their disposal contributes to our green house gas (GHG) emissions, taking 500 to 1,000 years to degrade.

Following the introduction of a …

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Phil Bennion MEP wins Clean Air award

Phil Bennion MEP at the European Parliament

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion has won an award for his work in improving air quality in cities across the UK, after a successful campaign to cut deadly pollution including from diesel-powered vehicles.

Phil  was given the “Clean Air in Cities Award” by campaigning group Clean Air in London after he successfully campaigned to ensure tailpipe exhaust checks are included in MOT tests under EU law. This will help detect harmful emissions and ensure that newer diesel-powered vehicles remain fitted with exhaust filters that prevent deadly particulate pollution being released into the air.

Around a quarter of pollution in the atmosphere in the UK comes from diesel engines, contributing to an estimated 7,000 of the 29,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year.

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Ros Scott speaks out against food waste

Food waste 215 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.

122 million tonnes wasted in the industrialised world (which makes the British contribution of an eye-wateringly high proportion).

The latter figure is equal to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s a far cry from the days when we were growing up. Any waste at all horrified my Granny. She went to the shops every day and bought what she needed for that day and no more. Most of what she bought was relatively locally produced, unprocessed and fresh.

photo by: Nick Saltmarsh
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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Tell me why you’re green

This week, Nick’s letter is about his speech to the Green Alliance. It summarises what he said, but doesn’ t link to it. Just as well we put it in full here, then. The aim is to drive people to shiny new “Why I am Green” Nationbuilder site. 1329 people have already given their reasons. He’s losing no opportunity to explain why Ed Miliband’s energy price freeze just doesn’t cut it. He’s modified the language a bit, putting in a bit more detail, but is still describing it as the con that it is.

libdem letter from nick clegg

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In full: Nick Clegg’s speech to the Green Alliance

Nick Clegg made an important speech to the Green Alliance this morning, making the case that what seemed like a cross-party consensus on the issue of climate change has now crumbled, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the only major party still committed to preventing the catastrophic warming of the planet:

Labour have undermined what was their one and only green pledge – a decarbonisation target – with a policy that would damage the very industry needed to deliver it. They’re abandoning the environment to score a few populist points. It’s utterly Janus-faced.

Senior members of the Conservative party now openly attack environmental policies as anti-growth, as well as publically question the threat of climate change.

And yet all of us sat to hear Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, when he came last month and explained to the Government that the recent IPCC report – which made clear the threats posed by man-made climate change – was the most exhaustive, authoritative, peer reviewed report on climate change ever published. How much more hard science is needed to convince the climate change deniers they’ve got it wrong?

The speech also touched on some other, less well-publicised, areas within environmental policy:

In our natural environment, we’ve introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development, and maintained strong protections for the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Something many of the people in this room were involved in.

We’re on track to plant a million more trees by the end of the parliament – the majority in the most deprived and least green areas.

After a comprehensive review, we plan to launch a new National Pollinator strategy next spring to protect the country’s bees and many other pollinating insects.

We’re reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill and we’re investing in cleaning up England’s rivers, lakes and waterways.

We’ve promoted animal welfare, including ending the practice of keeping laying hens in tiny battery cages and, for the first time, implementing welfare standards for game-birds. We are also strongly committed to working with our international partners to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, and in a few months we’ll be hosting a major international conference in London to agree the action that is needed.

We’re seeing encouraging progress on biodiversity – this year’s biodiversity assessment report shows, for example, more land and sea protected and fish stocks better managed.

We have also now implemented the Marine and Coastal Access Act, which seeks to improve the management and protection of our marine environment and increase public access to our coastal paths: so more people can access the beauty of Britain’s landscape, and we’re going to be saying more about marine conservation shortly.

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The European Election – Campaigning on the Issues

We are now just 30 weeks away from the next round of local elections. Crucially, these have been arranged to coincide with the EU-wide election for the European Parliament. Obviously who gets what seats in Brussels and Strasbourg seems far more removed from our ordinary lives than the running of the local Council, but it is still hugely important.

As a candidate in the European Election, I am very keen that we do not end up wasting time talking about Brussels obscurities. Instead, those of us selected to stand for the European Parliament are trying to talk …

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Take a good coalition environmental move and Owen Paterson will undermine it

Paterson in Carrier BagPutting an acknowledged environmental sceptic in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was always going to be bad news. Shropshire MP Owen Paterson’s sympathies lie with industrial scale farming and fracked landscapes. He hates windfarms and is a global warming sceptic. Now he’s trying to restrict the scope of the carrier bag charge.

It’s no surprise then that he is reluctant to introduce a charge on supermarket carrier bags. Previously, Defra sat on its heels. Its ministers claimed it needed better evidence about the impact of a charge. That’s an ironic position to take given that Defra has launched a badger cull against the scientific evidence of the Krebs trails.

It is true that under the former Labour government, Defra became obsessed with carbon emissions at the expense of the contribution of the environment to wellbeing and biodiversity – as did much of the environmental movement. It fretted that a one use paper bag used more carbon than a well-used plastic bag. Everyone but CPRE and few other charities ignored the impact of plastic bags on landfill, the landscape, our streets and the seas.

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The Independent View: Conference 2013: Lib Dems must stand up for the environment

For a fleeting moment in May 2010 there was genuine optimism that the environment might be put at the heart of Britain’s political agenda.

With a coalition of Liberal Democrats, praised by many, including Friends of the Earth, for their manifesto’s prioritisation of environmental issues, joining forces with a ‘vote blue, go green’ Tory party, fresh from championing the Climate Change Act, it looked as if yellow and blue really could produce green.

But three and a half years later Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest Government ever” now seems little more than a cynical sound bite.

Perhaps less expected is the …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Green jobs, cleaner energy, keeping the lights on and bills down

The Energy Bill returns to the House of Commons tomorrow. It’s a crucial Bill that will help deliver all of the above, but clearly one issue – the 2030 decarbonisation target for the power sector – has been the focus of much attention over the last few months. Let’s be clear, such a target wasn’t mentioned in any party’s manifesto or the Coalition Agreement, or in the draft Bill when I became Secretary of State. But because we won the argument in Government, and the Bill now provides for a target, Britain will be the first country in the world …

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Andrew George MP writes…Liberal Democrats must defend green promise

It’s crunch time for parties across the political spectrum: will parliamentarians do the right thing for our climate and the UK economy or will they let the sceptics drive investors overseas?

The Energy Bill returns to the Commons next week, just as the Conservatives are retreating to their traditional political stomping grounds in the face of competition from the right. Writing in Lib Dem Voice last month, Nick Clegg noted that: “Compassionate conservatism has been sidelined…the blue team used to claim to have gone green, yet have now publicly denounced the importance of environmental protections”. It’s up to the Liberal Democrats to …

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Opinion: Is it too much to ask that our MPs understand the health impact of air pollution?

The events of last week in Woolwich totally dominated the media, and quite rightly so. However there was an opinion poll that was published last week that also deserves some attention.

In April Dods interviewed 101 Members of Parliament – that is almost one in six of them – about their attitudes towards air pollution as a contribution to premature deaths.  The MPs interviewed were broadly representative of Parliament, with 47 Conservative MPs taking part, along with 40 Labour MPs, 9 Liberal Democrat MPs and 5 MPs from other parties.

Why is this poll so significant?

The simple answer is that …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Local television

Last week was an important one for local news coverage in the Borders as the broadcasting regulator OFCOM asked for views on its proposals to change the way local television news is provided here.

After years of shared news with Tyne Tees, they are now looking at options to return things close to the way they were in 2009. That would mean more coverage of the south of Scotland and particularly our part of it …

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The Independent View: Liberal Democrats – nature needs you!

A majestic soaring eagle. The lightning flash of a kingfisher. Feeding the ducks.

For most people, wildlife ignites their first sparks of interest in environmental issues, yet it is currently conspicuously absent from the political discourse. We hear a lot about sustainability and climate change, but if this Government is to realise its ambitions to be “the Greenest Government ever” it has to tackle biodiversity conservation as well.

We desperately need action: the UK has missed its commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010; 42% of our most important habitats and …

Posted in Conference, Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Chris Davies MEP writes: A view from the North (2/3)

You can read the first instalment of Chris Davies’s View from the North here.

It will some as no surprise to members in the North West that I asked them some questions on issues relating to the environment and reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

I have led on environmental issues for the pan-European Liberal group in the Parliament since 1999, but since being re-elected in 2009 I have made sustainable reform of the CFP my biggest policy priority.

I asked whether members agreed with the majority of the world’s scientists that the climate is changing. 88% agreed and only …

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Simon Hughes: Keeping the green agenda on track

An email from Simon Hughes to party members and supporters yesterday read…

As the Guardian reports today, the Liberal Democrats have stopped George Osborne giving in to his backbenchers and kept the Coalition’s green agenda on track.

Liberal Democrats are determined to make the Coalition Government the greenest ever and prove that going green can be good for business and jobs.

Today’s announcement of subsidy levels for renewable energies gives investors the long term stability they need and should see £20-25bn invested by 2017.

It will help create new green jobs and keep us on track to meet our ambitious climate change targets.

Liberal Democrats …

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Opinion: Time to take a stand on “Boris Island”

Local politics in the south-east of England, especially in North Kent and London, has been dominated by the proposed HUB airport, it was a key issue in the Mayoral debate, especially for residents of the Medway towns. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson is pushing for a new airport either on the Isle of Grain where there is an RSPB sanctuary on marshland that was portrayed in Dickens’ Great Expectations or in the middle of the estuary itself.

It is a story that is hardly out of the local press or local Politicians blogs which is why I was reading a

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Andrew George MP writes: Liberal Democrats are champions of green economy

Yesterday Nick Clegg set out the Government’s agenda on energy efficiency and the role of a green economy in delivering growth. Important announcements on energy efficiency, tackling fuel poverty and helping consumers find the best tariffs all caught the media’s attention. But for me the real story is that the Liberal Democrats remain the champions of plans to build a green economy.

Nick was right to attack those who say that there is a zero sum game between economic growth and protecting the environment. As the Liberal Democrats have argued for decades, it isn’t about choosing – the two go …

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Opinion: Re-stating our environmental credentials in a language that makes economic sense

Last weekend wasn’t a good one for the environmental agenda.

First came a DECC press release containing proposals that will give rise to a new ‘dash for gas’ in the UK. The announcement means that new gas power stations will not need to be more efficient or less polluting.  It is part of the Treasury’s anti-green agenda which holds the misguided view that green policies are anti-growth and increase costs for businesses and households. This is despite the fact that recent hikes in power bills have been largely due to large increases in wholesale gas prices.

(Incidentally, the release was embargoed until …

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Liblink: Duncan Brack on how to get green policies implemented in Government

Until recently, Duncan Brack was Chris Huhne’s Special Adviser in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He has written for the Green Alliance blog about the challenges of putting green policies into practice. As well as insight into the practical realities of Government, he has some interesting points to make about the importance of policy making within political parties and how it might need to change in the future:

The coalition agreement hammered out by Liberal Democrat and Conservative negotiators over five days of talks in May 2010 (with details added over the following two weeks) became, at least in

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The Independent View: The major environmental tests facing the Liberal Democrats in 2012 Part 2

In my last post, I looked at the most significant environmental decisions facing the Liberal Democrats here at home in 2012. In this follow up blog, I’ll look at what Nick Clegg and his team can do on the global stage to clean up our economies and help curb the emissions driving dangerous shifts in our climate. As Nick Clegg has said, “Because we are leading by example, we can make stronger demands of the international community.”

International leadership on climate change and the green economy

Chris Huhne wrote in his resignation letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, “Climate …

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The Independent View: The major environmental tests facing the Liberal Democrats in 2012 (Part 1)

The Liberal Democrats have long been seen as the greenest of the biggest three political parties. Now in government, the party is facing tough decisions with huge implications both for our country’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and for wider protection of the natural world.

During his time in office Lib Dem Climate Secretary Chris Huhne won a couple of significant battles with Cabinet colleagues. Most notably, despite opposition from the Chancellor, he won the backing of David Cameron to put into law tough new carbon targets for the 2020s that were recommended by their independent advisers the Committee on …

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Opinion: If Cameron won’t attend Rio+20 then Clegg should

The Rio ‘Earth’ Summit in 1992 was the “world’s biggest ever political gathering” with 108 heads of state or government. Its successes and failures on the environment and development continue to shape those debates.

In June, Rio de Janeiro will host the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, a.k.a. Rio+20. A very early draft document suggests it will cover a wide range of topics, including access to food, water and energy; marine litter and pollution; eliminating “market distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies including those on fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries” (I’ll believe it when I see …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP writes a regular column for local newspapers in his constituency. Here’s the latest edition, covering his busy week at Westminster and in the Borders.

Independence Referendum

Deciding on the future of our country and whether it remains in the UK or becomes independent will undoubtedly be the most important decision we Borderers make in our lifetime. Here in Berwickshire, we are very close to our English neighbours and enjoy the freedom of travelling and trading between the two countries. With questions which need answering on the SNP’s plans for an independent Scotland, …

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Opinion: How to tackle over-population for the sake of our planet

Monday, 31st October 2011, is ‘7 billion Day’, the day chosen by the UN to represent symbolically the world’s human population reaching 7,000,000,000.

In 1800, the world’s population was approximately 1 billion. We ‘achieved’ 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, by 1999 it had doubled to 6 billion, and it has taken 12 years to reach 7 billion. By the middle of the century the best estimates are that it will be around 10 billion. (You can find the UN’s figures here.)

Medical advances and public health measures have led to much lower infant mortality and much greater longevity. …

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Liverpool’s listening exercise and the Green Agenda

Liverpool Liberal Democrats have just kicked off the next stage in our work toward regaining power in Liverpool.

We don’t run the council, in fact we are some way off running the council. But we know that the ruling Labour administration has no real vision, and as part of our way back towards running the City we wanted to develop and articulate one.

So we have published a document and started a “listening exercise”. Headlines include our aspirations for Liverpool to be the Green Capital of Europe and for us to take real advantage of the opportunities in the Localism Bill. You can find the …

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Opinion: Rebalancing taxes – eliminating the carbon externality

What I term “The Carbon Externality” is that cost being borne by current and future society as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, being produced over the past century or so at a rate that exceeds the capacity of the planet to absorb them without perceptible harm.

Externality is an accounting/economics term for any cost that is borne by an external party, and therefore not part of the internal cost analysis. It is the fundamental flaw in Friedman economics and why those calling for small government are missing the point.

Government exists to account for and address externalities. Effective regulation of the market reduces or eliminates externalities so that the costs of doing business are increasingly borne by those who benefit from the business, in the form of reduced profits and higher end-user costs. Taxes are the principle mechanism for this.

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Praise for Green Investment Bank plans

Sage Construction reports:

The Green Investment Bank is set to be a “transformational institution”, Transform UK has claimed.

Following deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s recent speech on the establishment, programme director for Transform UK Ed Matthew welcomed the news that investment opportunities will be open from April 2012.

However, he noted that there are a number of points that need to be addressed.

“The key thing is to have a process where they confirm that the bank will have the power to borrow from the capital markets and not just the treasury,” Mr Matthew commented.

You can read the full story here.

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In other Chris Huhne news… good news for the environment

In between fielding allegations from his estranged wife over his previous behaviour, yesterday Chris Huhne announced that the government is setting an ambitious target for reducing carbon emissions in the mid-2020s.

The government is accepting the advice of the Committee on Climate Change to set a limit on emissions of of 1,950MT for the fourth carbon budget period of 2023–27, which is equivalent to a 50 per cent cut in UK emissions by 2025.

As Chris Huhne said of the announcement,

It will give investors the certainty they need to invest in clean energy. It puts Britain at the leading edge of

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Green government, reforming government: the liberal influence

Here’s Nick Clegg’s latest email to party members:

I’m delighted to let you know about two developments in government today – reinforcing our commitment to being the greenest government ever and publishing our plans for an elected second chamber.

Our party has always been the greenest among the mainstream political parties. We put the commitment to put make Britain greener on the front cover of our manifesto. And I’m proud that we’re living up to that reputation in Government – even in these difficult economic times.

Chris Huhne and Vince Cable have today announced proposals for binding carbon targets in the run-up to …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 17th Sep - 6:28pm
    An informative article. To do my bit for the No campaign in the final hours I will say that I worry a Yes vote will...
  • User AvatarMartin 17th Sep - 6:27pm
    Eddie: it would not even be temporary for the reasons I gave. The standing principle would probably be the treaty obligations that any successor state...
  • User AvatarBenj 17th Sep - 6:25pm
    Here one for you Sara. A quote from you on your LV site "The price of houses is directly linked to lack of supply." If...
  • User AvatarMartin 17th Sep - 6:13pm
    ... elections (sorry my computer blinked!). I simply wish the Party had been less one sided in this debate. If Scotland did vote YES we...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 17th Sep - 6:08pm
    Hi Martin, I meant that the EU withdrawal would only be temporary, but still immediate. I think the whole thing is constitutional naval gazing. It...
  • User AvatarMartin 17th Sep - 6:05pm
    From an outside perspective Denis Mollison's article rings true to me. I am very apprehensive of the Scottish Liberal Democrat's strong identification with the NO...