The environment was our theme at the Liberal Democrats in Business dinner in Oxford last night (after a session of polling-day phone banking for Sarah Olney!).
We were pleased to welcome as speakers Baroness Kate Parminter, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader in the Lords and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Dr Imad Ahmed of the Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University.
Dr Ahmed spoke of recent research into nano-particles in air pollution and how they affect our brains. The study, and how air pollution is a possible cause of Alzheimer’s, has been reported here in the UK and around the world.
Just in the news today is reporting of a move by major cities to ban diesel vehicles. This is due to their production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxide (NOx). Dr Ahmed, in his talk, showed pictures of the effect of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on the brain.
The link between our health and the air we breathe was also made by Kate Parminter. Baroness Parminter spoke to us on environmental policy and what we should be doing now.
Baroness Parminter suggested two main focus points: developing the green economy and green jobs; and linking the benefits of caring for our environment to our well-being. Caring for our soil gives us better quality of food to eat; caring for our water gives us clean beaches and good drinking water; caring for our air improves all of our health and well-being.
Oxford is highly polluted – clean air has been championed by Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder who measured the Oxford City Centre air and found severe levels of pollution. Roz Smith, Oxfordshire County Councillor, asked Dr Ahmed whether meters were available which could test for nano-particles such as PM2.5. They are not, but this would be a great green-economy initiative for a small business out there.
Lib Dems have a real opportunity to push the green agenda, building on what we achieved in Coalition (establishing the Green Investment Bank, investing in green jobs, funding renewable energy, protecting bees and biodiversity). Let’s be the party that protects our air, water, soil and biodiversity for future generations; and that builds a green economy with zero-carbon homes, a strong renewable energy infrastructure and green vehicles for the future.
The next Liberal Democrats in Business event is on 12th December at the National Liberal Club with Sir Vince Cable. Tickets available here. Lib Dems in Business can be found on Facebook and twitter. Please contact Paul Lucraft, Chair, if you wish to join Lib Dems in Business or require further information: [email protected].
* Kirsten Johnson is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Oxford East and a member of the Federal International Relations Committee.