Catherine Bearder writes… 100 days to stop the Tories or Labour neglecting the environment

The countdown starts today. Just 100 days left to ensure that any future government has a strong Liberal voice in it. That means a strong voice for social justice and economic responsibility, ensuring that we finish the recovery and do so fairly. But it also means a voice that will continue to stand up for a radical approach on issues like drugs policy, indiscriminate snooping and constitutional reform. Crucial issues, but ones that both Conservatives and Labour would happily sweep under the carpet and forget about altogether if they were given the chance.

Top of these issues for me is the environment. Over the past 5 years we’ve seen what can be achieved when Lib Dems are in government. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind, encouraged the creation of the world’s first Green Investment Bank and are introducing a 5p plastic bag charge from September to help protect Britain’s natural habitat. Ed Davey has led the fight against climate change, successfully pushing for a 40% cut in carbon emissions in the EU by 2030 and paving the way for a global deal at talks in Paris later this year. It’s no exaggeration to say that without Lib Dems in government, the likelihood of reaching international agreement on tackling climate change would be seriously diminished.

If you want to see how Tories would approach the environment if governing alone, you only have to look at their voting record in the European Parliament. As Tim Farron recently pointed out, Tory MEPs have consistently voted against green measures including efforts to keep new air pollution limits on the table. Labour’s record on the environment is admittedly slightly better. But Ed Miliband’s plan to freeze energy bills would inevitably have a dramatic impact on green investment and jobs, while many in the party still regard the environment as a fringe issue. The truth is that the Liberal Democrats are the only major party that puts protecting the environment at our heart.

So in the coming months, I will be fighting to ensure that as many Lib Dem MPs as possible are elected so that the environment is not neglected in any future coalition government. As a government-sponsored report found today, protecting our natural capital goes hand in hand with securing our future economic prosperity and will have huge benefits for society, from improving health to preventing flooding. But to do that, we need Lib Dems at the heart of national decision-making, fighting for a more sustainable future.

* Catherine Bearder is a Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East and Leader of the European Parliament Liberal Democrat Group.

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  • Nick Collins 27th Jan '15 - 8:19pm

    “… a strong voice for social justice and …”

    Oh come on! After your Party’s record as a partner in this appalling government over the past five years, your credibility on social justice is zero.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Jan '15 - 8:31pm

    The reports focus on “natural capital” such as forests, rivers land and wildlife is a good one, but the approach from all main parties towards the environment saddens me.

    Most political activists from the centre-left to the centre-right seem to want a second industrial revolution and we need to argue against it.

    Thanks for the article.

  • It’s kind of ironic seeing this story just after visiting the BBC website and seeing the breaking news that Tessa Munt has been forced out of her role as Cable’s aide for voting for a moratorium on fracking against the party line ( Kind of scotches any pretense the Lib Dems have that they are a party that’s strong on green issues, doesn’t it?

  • billy boulton 27th Jan '15 - 9:19pm

    As a green minded liberal, who really wants to be persuaded to vitelib dem in may, I find it really sad that I read an article like this which I totally agree with, but then on the same day lib dem mp s are whipped into voting for fracking. Why do the party leaders do these things?

  • I am afraid that on a number of environmental issues we have not shown the leadership we should. The fracking vote yesterday was a case in point. I have just looked at the voting, and 13 good Lib Dems voted for a temporary ban (moratorium) on fracking. It seems that pressure from George Osborne ensured the payroll vote voted against such a move, but several others did as well. In my view, it is vital that we stop opening up new sources of fossil fuel, or they will become an accepted part of our fuel resources, diverting efforts away from decarbonisation. People who vote like this are not climate deniers in theory, but seem to act like them on practical issues. Such people, unfortunately include Ed Davey, Climate Secretary. I am afraid despite Catherine Bearder’s positive words here, I am not impressed.

  • Tsar Nicolas 28th Jan '15 - 11:44am

    I echo the comments about the fracking vote by all but 13 Lib Dem MPs brave enough to stand up to the Whips.

    But may I present a somewhat different view on this?

    Since 2005 some $4 trillion has been invested globally by the oil and gas industry, of which £360 billion went to unconventional sources such as deep underwater oil and fracking.

    The more than three-and-a-half trillion dollars that went to conventional oil, the stuff that you can get out of the ground relatively easily, produced no net increase in conventional oil production. The small increase that there was is entirely due to unconventional sources such as fracking.

    This suggest that peak oil occurred in 2005 and that its effects have only been kept away from the public gaze by these unconventional sources of oil.

    This is a scary position to be in as a global economy because we do not, unlike after the age of timber, or the age of coal, have a ready standby alternative energy source, and our economy, our civilisation depends on abundant cheap energy.

    We are going to have to rethink many things, and rethink them pretty fast.

  • Hey Catherine,
    I’ve spent a lot of time over the last fortnight looking at what the Lib Dems really achieved in government as regards the environment and it’s not a very good record. The party failed on this topic time and time again, one of the first things this government did was slash the renewables subsidies 10% (which we swore would never happen), then it scrapped the SDC and polished up with support for fracking.

    The Greens will ensure LD losses in many marginals, people just aren’t convinced by the Lib Dems record on the environment.

  • You’ve defended the badger cull, contributed to flooding by removing defences and imposed a 3 line whip on the fracking vote. I think any green credentials the party had are gone now.

  • You wanted to sell off our forests until public pressure forced a coalition u turn. One sickening memory for me was Danny Alexander wanting to privatise English forests, while saying the opposite for Scotland.

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