Roger Williams MP on World Environment Day

This years World Environment Day should provide the perfect launching pad for the Liberal Democrat’s vision for a sustainable and environmentally sound future. For a party like the Liberal Democrats who profess that there is a green thread running through all of its policies. World Environment Day 2009 and its theme of Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change should be used as a medium through which worldwide awareness of the environment should be stimulated and political attention should be re-focused on the issue of the environment.


World Environment Day 2009

Climate Change is the great challenge facing the whole of the humankind. People need leadership to guide them into a sustainable future. Human nature often means that people focus on the short term and disregard what sacrifices need to be made for the long term. For instance people who in principal are all for conservation and support the fight against Climate Change, when faced with every day decisions such as the use of plastic bags and recycling choose the easiest and most convenient option. We need to make and enforce those hard decisions for them.

The Liberal Democrat Party has been at the forefront of the fight against Climate Change with Nick Clegg proposing the Green road out of recession in December.

That put forward such initiatives as a five year programme to insulate every school and hospital, funding insulation and energy efficiency for a million homes, with a £1,000 subsidy for a million more and building 40,000 extra zero-carbon social houses

More recently, Lib Dems have developed proposals to improve insulation of British homes into the programme Warm Homes: an opportunity offered, with the target of bringing all of Britain’s 22 million homes up to the necessary energy efficiency standards. This greater fuel efficiency would not also mean that Britain as a whole would be doing less harm to the planet but would also save money for ordinary people. This proposal would be implemented with the help of schemes like the Warm Homes Fund, National Green Loans and Warm Homes Zone. This proposal also includes the creation of a Sustainable Energy Agency and in general would mean the creation of new green jobs that would make Britain a world leader in the field of fighting Climate Change.

We have been at the forefront of innovative proposals to combat Climate Change in a way that affects businesses in a fair manner. One such proposal is reform of the way that air travel is taxed, with the introduction of an emissions charge per flight rather than Air Passenger Duty which is charged per passenger. Advantages of this proposal are that it would apply to all flights including freight flights and that it would penalise flights that expend whole tanks of fuel on flights that have few passengers on them. This would help to encourage a more efficient and streamlined air travel industry.

Lib Dem proposals for tackling Climate Change have not only been over-arching themes but have also included initiatives that are focused on the smaller details in a way that also benefits ordinary people.

Part of the agenda for World Environment Day 2009 is to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues – something I believe the Liberal Democrats have been doing. A good example would be Tom Brake’s campaign Hands off our back garden that fights against the erosion of green spaces in our urban environments. Not only will this improve the aesthetic qualities of our cities but would have environmental benefits including the absorption of greenhouse gases and the improvement of drainage in highly concretized suburban areas.

The Liberal Democrats have also been at the forefront of promoting environmental issues in the realm of consumer affairs. Jo Swinson has been spearheading a campaign to tackle excess packaging. This would lessen the environmental cost of around five million tonnes of packaging being sent to landfills each year, in addition to reducing the amount families spend on packaging which is estimated at £470 a year.

World Environment Day is not only the perfect opportunity to showcase the work we have done in combating the threat of Climate Change but should also inspire us with the impetus to do more. Therefore on the 5th of June our call should be Environment, environment, environment.

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