LibLink: Tim Farron: Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories neglecting the environment

Tim Farron has been writing for the New Statesman about what the Liberal Democrats have done, despite the Tories, to protect our environment.

He says we can look to Europe to see the sorts of things they would be doing without us to propel them with some force towards the door marked “green”.

 But we’ve come a long way since the days of trips to the Arctic and hugging huskies. Cameron now openly talks about “getting rid of green crap,” while Tory minister Michael Fallon has said the Tories would stop the construction of onshore wind farms if they win in 2015. As we near the general election, the Conservatives are rapidly abandoning any pretence that they care about the green agenda.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the European Parliament, where the Tories are completely unrestricted by the constraints of coalition government. Time and again Conservative MEPs have shown their true colours when it comes to EU environmental measures, and they are definitely not green. They voteddown EU measures to restrict the destructive practice of deep-sea fishing. They’ve opposed efforts to reduce plastic bag use and tackle the scourge of plastic waste in our oceans. And they’ve repeatedly voted against efforts to strengthen the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme, Europe’s landmark policy for fighting climate change.

It’s all very different in the coalition, though:

In coalition, Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind and stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy. And while senior Conservative politicians voice their doubts about man-made climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions. Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories from lurching to the right on the environment. The truth is, the only way to make blue go green is by adding yellow.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • The NS piece is good, as far as it goes, and I’ve always been a Farron fan. You can hear the “but” coming, can’t you?

    I really do think it needs to go further spelling out the Lib Dems’ considerable green credentials, policies and principles; the ‘only way to make blue go green is to add yellow’ line is good, but it smacks of the early Coalition days, rather than anticipating the next election. It should acknowledge more purely Lib Dem stuff rather than setting the party purely in terms of the Conservatives. They’ve *already* lurched to the right as a party; it’s true (and really very good) that we’ve been a brake on them forcing the country with it, but we’ve not had unalloyed success in that regard, and it seems a shame to continue the early-Coalition rhetoric this close to the election. We should be talking as much about what we’re about as what the other lot are (or aren’t).

  • Alex Macfie 18th Jan '15 - 6:34pm

    So why didn’t we say anything about what Conservative MEPs were voting for during the Euro election campaign?

  • Peter Chivall 18th Jan '15 - 10:30pm

    @Alex McClellan. Sheer incompetence. They simply believe that the people who might vote for us had no interest in green issues. If you look at the figures, just a 1% shift of votes from Green to LibDems could have saved 1/2 of our MEP’s seats. Thank God someone in Clegg’s team now seems to understand this. Lets hope it’s not ‘too little, too late’.

  • Let’s look at the facts Tim presents as our parliamentary record on the environment :

    >Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda.

    When? How?

    >We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind

    No, you haven’t, that was private companies.

    >stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy.

    No, that was Renewables UK’s lawyers, other than that you argued for a 10% cut in support to wind farms instead of a 25% cut. Nevertheless, your government did ultimately cut support for renewables.

    >Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions.

    By trying to shirk the EU carbon targets :

    Joss Garman, Greenpeace : “These documents are proof that [Davey] has caved in to fossil fuel industry lobbyists fighting to increase our dependence on burning imported and polluting gas to generate power.”

    Someone want to try a more convincing argument for Lib Dems on the environment? It’s a very interesting topic, I think its been a big area of failure for the coalition and so both parties have agreed not to actually do very much for five years. It focuses on the areas where Tories and Lib Dems don’t agree, and thinking about what’s happened. In this particular subject I think the answer has been “as little as possible”.

  • Alex Macfie 21st Jan '15 - 8:49am

    @Peter Chivall: I have a different take on it, as the big error in our Euro campaign is that we said NOTHING AT ALL on what our MEPs had done or would do, as liberals, to shape EU law. It was all “Party of IN”, about how great the EU is, but not about having a liberal EU. I think it was an error to cast Farage and UKIP as our main opponent, as the effect of this was to inflate UKIP’s significance and increase its share of the vote. One thing the Green Party did that none of the other parties did in the Euro campaign was to focus on their record in the European Parliament and on the stuff that MEPs actually do. If we had pointed out the contrast between us and the Tories in the European Parliament on, for examp[le, climate change, we would not only have got some Green votes, but also votes from LD-Tory waverers who would have known about the extremism of the Tory MEPs and their European allies.
    I’m glad we’re mentioning it now, but we really missed a trick.

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