A Zero Carbon Britain with the Liberal Democrats

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats launched radical proposals to create a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. Our paper ‘Zero Carbon Britain – Taking a Global Lead’ is the most far-reaching set of proposals on climate change ever championed by a British political party.

This is the first time any party has set out a plan to tackle carbon emissions from every part of the economy: transport, energy, housing, offices and factories.

The green tax switch is a vital part of our programme. We want to reverse the decline in green taxation under Labour. We will use the revenue from higher taxes on gas-guzzling cars and planes to cut income tax.

Our transport plans would see the development of new high-speed rail links. We would double investment in the railways over the next 5 years, paid for by tolling lorries on motorways. We would radically reduce vehicle emissions by introducing a binding – and realistic – target of zero-carbon for all new cars by 2040.

We are committed to 100 per cent carbon free renewable electricity by 2050 by providing new incentives. We will toughen up the EU emissions trading scheme, support clean energy in developing countries and back a fair global carbon treaty.

The full policy paper will be debated at Conference next month. You can read it here.

The Liberal Democrats have a track-record of leading the way on the environment. Across the country Liberal Democrats councils are delivering, pushing up recycling rates and supporting greener, cleaner communities. Our councils are four times as likely to be “green leaders” than Conservative councils, and twice as likely as Labour.

This paper is our ambitious and comprehensive programme to create a fair and low carbon economy. While the other parties may talk green, we mean green.

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This entry was posted in Conference and Op-eds.


  • With Ming recently getting rid of his gaz guzzling Jaguar and Chris Huhne only fairly recently getting rid of his BMW 7 series complete with personalised number plates,who can take these guys seriously.

    Just the usual Lib Dem opportunism.

  • OK, Jim, how long should one leave it after getting rid of a BMW or Jag before one is entitled to a propose a policy to tackle climate change?

    Personally, I would happy to see the policies brought in even if they came from people who went around by personal jet. It’s the outcome that matters. I certainly wouldn’t consider them a hypocrite unless they were also lecturing me on how I ought to travel. I’ve read the paper, there is no lecturing.

  • Its good to see a carbon tax on fuel, but this should be introduced across the board as a replacment for inneffectual trading schemes. However, it is a big step in the right direction, and tightining up the trading mechanism will hopefully mean they have some impact.
    The per flight air tax should have been introduced immediatly, the current system madly encourages more flights, if anything.
    Home energy efficency improvement schemes have been a big success elswhere, also good to see them taken up.
    Proposals for 30% carbon-neutral power in 12 years while not building any more nuclear plants are just a pipe dream. Our train expansion won’t be much use if they are drawing their power from coal stations, so this is a double failing.
    Using the requirment for subsidy is a nonsense, as all greener fuels require subsidy. If carbon was taxed as per its environmental impact, then it would probably be competitive. Inflexible is meaningless, theres no demand to be 100% nuclear and the alternatives are once again no improvement.
    As to crowding out microgeneration and other such schemes… they are totally inefficent and require more subsidy than anything else! Better to invest elsewhere.
    A major move the right way, but there are still golden geese to slay before we can say we are putting reducing carbon emmisions above peoples pet concerns.

  • What is to be gained by tolling lorries on motorways? Would we prefer LGVs to use minor roads, with all the aggravation that would bring? And do we want our food to be more expensive?

    All the supermarkets have warehouses close to motorways. The deliveries are done mostly early in the morning, and depot to depot movements are generally at night. Few, if any at all, of the shops to which these lorries deliver are accessible by rail. Forcing lorries off the motorways would lead to a less efficient and more expensive (to the consumer) distribution system.

    The party’s continued opposition to nuclear power needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. There is simply no alternative. Do we really want to go on burning fossil fuel, most of it imported from unstable parts of the world? That is madness, surely? Those who think wind-farms are the answer are living in fairyland, I’m sorry to say. Unless, like the Greens, one aspires to live in the Upper Palaeolithic.

  • Closed minds make it difficult to imagine different solutions – but 100 years ago no-one would have believed you would be able to fly to the USA in 2007 for a weekend of shopping.

    And in 100 years’ time we won’t have the abundant fossil fuels to keep lorries transporting goods around motorway networks, and probably won’t want to be doing this either http://www.peakoil.net/

    So why not envisage and plan for a future that’s less reliant on fossil fuels, and less polluting. It doesn’t mean life has to be less enjoyable – and perhaps it might even be more fun…

    The Centre for Alternative Technology recently published its ZeroCarbonBritain http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com/ – a 30-year update on its original Alternative Energy Strategy for the UK. It explains how it’s possible to meet energy demands without resorting to nuclear power, and looks at technologies such as V2G.

  • #6 Did anyone defend fossil fuels? That seems to attacking a position noone holds, wonder why you would do that? Although surely the unreliabilty of peak oil predictions is by now clear.
    I hardly think a report that seems to be centered on some kind of energy autarky is one putting finding a way to produce minimum emmissions above other goals.
    The report you link is based on laughably optomistic energy saving achivements, total changeover to V2G along with tying the national grid electrical plans into total succes with a specific type of V2G car! Madness!
    A report that relies on halving industrial energy in 20 years without halting growth is one not based in reality. Nuclear power is the only option to maintain a modern society while cutting emmision in the next few decades while the long, not sudden, process of improving technology occurs.

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