Tag Archives: climate change

Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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World Review: Cuba, climate change, the Taliban and foreign aid

Cuba may be reaching the end of its search for Utopian Socialism – shop shelves are empty and people are hungry. Ten years from now 2021 will be known as the year that the world was dragged kicking and screaming to the reality of climate change. The Taliban continues its march to victory with the capture of a key border crossing in the southeast corner on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Boris Johnson’s win on foreign aid this week was the world’s loss.

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Ecocidal thoughts

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Ecocide, unlike Geocide, has yet to be embedded in international law.

Ecocide, as envisaged, would perhaps be reserved for extreme forms of our everyday Planet Abuse and directed at corporates and government leaders whose policies wreak so much damage.  Even so, the chances of such condemnation becoming law are minimal – and the chances of it acting as any deterrent, even less.  Like so much else in the hot air of climate debating circles, the notion of Ecocide is as purely symbolic as national flag waving or political greenwashing.

On the other hand, everyday Planet Abuse is more easily understood by individual citizens and communities.  For sure, there are challenges in tracking useful metrics: many places and people will see different priorities, and we are still a very long way from the general taboos that progressive societies try to muster for, say, Domestic or Racial Abuse.

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World Review: Netanyahu, G7, corporation tax and going green

In this week’s look at world news, LDV’s foreign affairs editor Tom Arms reviews the situation in Israel where Netanyahu looks set to be ousted by a coalition held together, for now at least, by their opposition to the country’s leader of 12 years.

Cornwall will host the G7 summit later this week. Boris Johnson could join his peers having been defeated in the Commons over cuts to overseas aid. Coronavirus, climate change and promotion of green industries are on the agenda.

Finance ministers are expected to agree a base rate for corporation tax today but it is not necessarily a done deal. The proposal must be approved at the G20 summit meeting in Venice in July and countries that benefit from a low corporation tax regime, such as Ireland, are bound to challenge the proposal.

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Baroness Sheehan leads debate on climate change targets in Lords

Yesterday afternoon, the Grand Committee of the House of Lords debated climate change targets. The debate was initiated by Shas Sheehan who emphasised the importance of grasping the nettle of collaborative action on climate change during 2021. She criticised the UK’s investment in fossil fuel projects oversees and worldwide fossil fuel subsidies totalling £3.9 billion annually.

Baroness Sheehan highlighted the planning system which is not aligned with the government’s climate change targets.

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Yesterday was Earth Day – was it also the day we really began to tackle the climate emergency?

Earth Day is now in its 51st year. If Donald Trump had gained a second term, it would have probably gone unnoticed in the Capitol yesterday. But Joe Biden is now leading America and he used the occasion to host an international summit and announce deep cuts in carbon emissions. Pledges came in from leaders across the world.

Boris Johnson got his pennyworth in earlier announced that he will set in law “world’s most ambitious climate change target”, cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels in pursuit of zero carbon by 2050. Admirable stuff. More important than the headline figure is that the UK’s Carbon Budget will incorporate our share of international aviation and shipping emissions, which each contribute three to four per cent each to global warming.

Are we turning the corner at last in getting the political commitments we need to drive the business and societal changes needed to tackle climate change? Maybe.

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The Earth is not ours to abuse, we need to protect it for future generations

On 22 April 2021, The Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day will bring together leaders of major economies, including some of the world’s main polluters. Hosted by Joe Biden, the two-day conference aims to “galvanise efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis”.

In this month of Ramadan, Muslims globally should think deeply about climate change and steps they can take to address the issue.

Ramadan is a time when families and communities come together to celebrate and help each other. Muslims deliver food packages to the needy and recognise the importance of never wasting food, which in turn benefits the environment. Islamic teachings relate to the earth; planting a tree, for example, is like giving to charity, yet many Muslim’s awareness of this is staggeringly narrow. India, for example, has the world’s second highest Muslim population (as of 2018), yet is the world’s 2nd largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is therefore countries like these where education and everyday changes to lifestyle habits are fundamental in helping to address climate change. It is not just the responsibility of a few countries, but of every country and every individual.

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Climate Change: We must not discourage young people

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When the Southampton Daily Echo ran a story recently featuring the likely sea-rise impact on Southampton, it unleashed a torrent of outraged climate change denial. Climate Central’s data was viewed as preposterous, extremely unlikely and unwarranted fearmongering. Barely 20% of respondents agreed with the report.

That reaction – the refusal to countenance the full impact of the way we live now – is perfectly understandable. There are not many things these days as trusted as bricks and mortar…as safe as houses. Unfortunately, that trust flies in the face of science. While countries are firmly in the grip of an addiction to never-ending growth, it is difficult to face up to the consequences of damage to our planet.

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We can’t solve climate change and biodiversity loss without solving planning – a view from the grass roots

I am writing from the heart following a battering few years trying to protect biodiversity landscapes from new developments and to get sustainable transport written into housing and supermarket schemes.

On biodiversity, all we have got from developments in my expanding rural town is tokenism. Replacement trees within manicured landscapes. Not the untidy scrubby bits of landscape that are or will become biodiversity rich.

On sustainable transport, the car remains king. There are no plans for bus routes to serve four major housing developments. The out of town supermarket, with the backing of councillors and planners, doesn’t even have a bus stop.

The planning system is working against our national and international ambitions to enrich biodiversity and tackle the climate emergency.

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Which will be the first place to ban climate-busting ads?

Well, there is still all to play for – Labour Bristol has failed to be the first local authority to take a stand on advertising high carbon products like polluting SUV cars.

They have agreed to ban fast food advertising on council-owned advertising sites, like bus shelters, but they failed to follow up on the rest. They say they would need to go out for consultation on it and they fear ‘consultation fatigue’.

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Book review: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

“So, who am I to lecture anyone on the environment?” asks a man that flies in private planes and owns big homes. Okay. He is trying to mitigate his impacts through sustainable fuel and carbon offsets. But is Bill Gates the man to tell us how to fix climate change?

Bill Gates’ philosophy is one of improving life chances and lifestyles while cutting carbon emissions. It is an unashamedly market-led approach, creating incentives through carbon pricing and reducing the cost of greening energy. His approach is to roll out new technologies for energy and food production, not to change the fundamental ways that society works.

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Climate and Ecology Bill Event

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill) would “set an emergency path for the UK to follow” and allow it to play a “fair and proper role in limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C and restoring the natural world”. Yesterday, I took part in Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas’s debate on the Climate and Ecological Emergency in the UK, and you can listen to my contribution here and read the Hansard record here.

It was a fantastic opportunity to raise some of the themes that had emerged from a CEE Bill Alliance panel I had participated in previously, where I spoke about why the Liberal Democrats are supporting this vital piece of legislation. Alongside Lord Jonny Oates, our Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change in the Lords, Cllr Jackie Hook, Executive Member for Climate Change on Teignbridge District Council and Sarah Lunnon, CEE Bill Alliance Coordinator, I discussed why the CEE Bill is such a key part of our future.
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Company law needs to change to encompass environmental and societal responsibilities

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We continue to destroy our only planet, driven on by the moneymen and women. Politicians, in awe of the economists, see growth as the answer to every question. Anyone who stops to think for a moment can see that more and more growth is not any sort of a solution to today’s problems on a planet with limited resources.

This view of economics is hard wired into our society through the legal system. Most company directors have as a prime responsibility, that they must maximise the money made by their shareholders. Failure to do this means that they can be sued. Without changing company law to expand director responsibilities to include environmental and societal issues, we will remain locked into money being the measure of everything. And consequent ongoing environmental destruction.

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Ed Davey on Marr: We need £150 billion green recovery, not weak and timid government

“We are not a rejoin party” was one of the first things Ed Davey said in his New Year interview with Andrew Marr. The starkness of that statement is bound to disappoint some Liberal Democrat members and activists who are committed to this country ultimately being part of the EU again. Party strategists are adamant that now is not the time to have that argument and that we need to re-establish our credibility after the 2019 election. Perhaps being proven right will take care of some of that issue. We just need to make sure that we can be better at benefitting from being right than we have been all the other times when we have called a major issue correctly – think Iraq and the 2008 economic crisis.

It’s also not what our policy, passed at Conference in September, says:

Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU.

I would have preferred to see a very quick addition to Ed’s line that we didn’t support Brexit for all the reasons we can see it going wrong before he emphasises the need for the closest possible relationship with the EU. There is nothing wrong with saying that while rejoin isn’t on the table now, we think we’ll get to a place where it will be a viable option. There is nothing wrong with keeping that hope alive.

However, he was very strong on one issue that differentiates us from the Labour Party. Keir Starmer is not going to fight for freedom of movement of people. The Liberal Democrats will. Ed said that taking away the freedom to live, work and raise families across the EU is illiberal. The issue is one that impacts on so many families in this country and should increase our support.

That’s a major point of difference with Labour and should attract young people.

The conversation then turned to students. Ed said that the Government had let down schools, universities and students. He called Gavin Williamson the worst education secretary in living memory, who had mismanaged the crisis for everyone in the education sector. He argued that students should be refunded some of their fees and the Government, not the universities should pay for this.

Marr then turned to another really important issue for Lib Dem voters – the environment.

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Fighting a losing battle: why Lib Dems should back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

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On Wednesday, Caroline Lucas, the sole Green Party MP at Westminster, did what she does best. She tabled a private members bill.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill would mandate that the UK:

  • goes further in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting our historic emissions and relative capacity to rapidly decarbonise;
  • takes steps to protect and restore biodiversity and soil;
  • accounts for overseas activity (e.g. in supply chains) in emissions accounting;
  • acts on the basis of currently available technology, rather than hypothetical future solutions;
  • establishes a citizen’s assembly to build consensus around specific policy actions.

These provisions are the price we must pay if we are to bear our full responsibility for the climate change. We cannot rely on sci-fi ideas which may never be realised, or ask those least responsible to bear the greatest burden. We may have devoted little attention to biodiversity, habitats and soil in the past, but these have profound importance, supporting food chains and acting as carbon sinks, not to mention being intrinsically valuable.

Even the citizen’s assembly, which I am temperamentally averse to as it allows government to abdicate their responsibility to lead, here serves only an advisory function, helping to build consensus without the usual risks of direct democracy.

There’s much to support and little to criticise.

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Tax carbon and reduce poverty

The 2019 Autumn Conference approved a generally good Policy Motion F29 Tackling the Climate Emergency, listing actions which reduce UK emissions to net zero within a few decades. It included point 2d – “Greening the taxation system to make the polluters pay and to reward progress towards net zero.”

This appears to be a statement of intent rather than a genuine action point. I believe that we should go further, committing to a carbon tax designed to:

  1. reduce carbon emissions – globally
  2. fight poverty
  3. protect the UK economy against unfair competition from overseas polluters

This might sound a classic trilemma (three mutually incompatible goals), but one policy can deliver all three. Here’s how.

We currently have a mishmash of carbon pricing measures (Climate Change Levy, Fuel Duty, etc.) which affect specific sectors.

  • These only exert downward pressure on fossil fuel consumption in some sectors, and prices are generally too low to drive rapid reductions.
  • They are potentially regressive, impacting the poor more than the rich.
  • They risk carbon leakage – when emission reduction policies in one country lead to increases elsewhere.

The solution is a carbon tax, dividend and border adjustment.

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South Lakeland District Council: Climate Action Plan

I very much favour articles that are about climate change, biodiversity etc. and I had a write up from Cllr. Dyan Jones from South Lakeland District council, on climate change, that I thought I would share with LDV readers

Tahir Maher

Wednesday Editor

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Here in Cumbria, South Lakeland District Council takes the business of climate change seriously, and sustainability underpins everything we seek to do.

Declaring our position last year; recognising the emergency, committing to action and unanimously agreeing to make this a public commitment, we set out to inform, influence and implement actions to address this emergency in all areas under our direct …

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Transforming our economy while remedying our environmental crisis – Part 2

In a previous article, I started to highlight policy areas that could advance our fight against the climate emergency and looked at legislation and taxation. This article continues the discussion and looks at additional policy measures to drive change in the way we treat the world we live on.

3. Education – all schools should have climate crises as a part of their social learning – this can be written into the personal, social education time which schools use to address and educate on issues. For adults, continued government promotion on single-use plastics, diets and other life choices is essential, and each individual must take responsibility for their actions. The crisis is unfathomably large but broken down into a single person among 8 billion, and a single footprint to wipe clean, if we all clean up after ourselves, it is possible.

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Transforming our economy while remedying our environmental crisis – Part 1

The fight against climate change is a global one; we understand the issue and science. We also understand the urgency, and in the Paris Agreement, every country committed to reducing emissions to target a significantly lower than a two-degree rise over pre-industrial temperatures. While the complexities are significant, the issue is that globally we continue to put too many greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The wealthy western countries have been the leaders of this pollution which are making the entire planet suffer, and the poorer countries are suffering more than the wealthiest; we need to lead the recovery.

The good news is that solutions do not have to be complex. For a start, we can put less harmful gases in and take more out. To achieve net-zero means that whatever we put in, we take out, essentially like wiping a footprint in the sand clean, so it looks like you were never there. At net-zero we, as humans, stop making the problem worse. However, we can strive to be better and to take more out than we put in, to allow the planet to get back to its natural cycles of carbon release and absorption.

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Climate change is real!

At a risk of writing another article about a topic we have heard a lot about in the past few years, this one, again, focussed on climate change. Why? It is abundantly clear to all who read from a scientific perspective, that climate change is happening. We have seen wildfires destroying large swathes of land in Australia and the USA, we are seeing weather changes causing flooding and destruction in the UK, and an ever increasing magnitude of storms. We have been warned by scientists, the United Nations and many international governments that the time to take action is NOW.

At our own Liberal Democrat conference, whilst making our statement that we were going to cancel Article 50 as our leading policy in September 2019, we did also approve our policy as it pertains to climate change. Reducing the amount of pollution is one thing and we need to get the entire planet to be carbon neutral and the carbon negative, and we need to do it as quickly a physically possible.

As of last year, we added 33 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere, that is 33,000,000,000,000 tons. This is an enormous number and there are only two ways to adjust for it, we put less, or we take more out, and a combination is key. Governments can, and should, be leading the way, encouraging use of re-usable power sources, promoting eating that is good for the individual and good for the environment, car-pooling discounts, cheaper public transport; there are ways. If we consider that in the wake of COVID-19, which is hopefully a shorter term initiative, we have mobilised entire countries and the entire world to stay home, to socially distance, and to change their behaviour, why are we so inept to deal with what is, ultimately, a challenge to every species and the very future of our planet?

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Lib Dems lead cross-party call for urgent support for airlines in return for climate action

The Liberal Democrats are leading a cross-party effort to secure Government agreement for an economic package to support the UK’s airlines in return to commitments to tackle the climate emergency.

Writing to the Chancellor, the cross-party group of parliamentarians have warned that without government support future fares may raise while “tens of thousands more will lose their jobs through no fault of their own.”

MPs from across the political spectrum have signed the letter and agreed “if public money is used to save them, they must be required by law to do more to tackle climate change.”

Liberal Democrat Transport …

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A private member’s bill to keep fossil fuels in the ground – where they belong

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Last year Theresa May’s government declared a climate emergency and put into law the aim to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

But here’s the rub. The UK government’s current primary objective for offshore oil and gas is to enable as much as possible to be extracted. This is written into the Petroleum Act 1998.

To many people it is a matter of common sense that opening up new oil and gas fields – and building new fossil fuel infrastructure – is incompatible with acting to tackle the climate emergency and meeting the net-zero target by 2050. It is also incompatible with our commitments to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The bald truth is that even if current developed reserves of fossil fuels are realised, we will easily pass the aspirant 1.5 degrees centigrade rise in temperature agreed in Paris; in fact we will hit the 2 degree rise in global temperatures that the IPCC have said will be catastrophic for the planet. To put things into perspective, currently global temperatures have risen to 1 degree centigrade (compared to 1880). According to NASA, the last five years are, collectively, the hottest on record.

Attitudes are changing. The World Bank announced in 2017 that it will phase out finance for oil and gas extraction. Mark Carney, when he leaves the BoE at the end of January, will take up a new role as UN envoy for Climate and Finance. He has already penned articles warning that divesting in fossil fuels by large institutions is happening too slowly and has warned that up to $20 trillion of “stranded assets” could be wiped out by climate change. There is growing acceptance that an economic transition is already underway, and we ignore it at our peril.

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24-26 January 2020 – the (long) weekend’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats welcome Citizens’ Assembly
  • Liberal Democrats: Sadiq Khan’s mass surveillance roll-out unacceptable
  • Ministers must explain soaring cost of HS2 to Parliament
  • Government must review assisted dying laws

Liberal Democrats welcome Citizens’ Assembly

Ahead of the first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, set up by House of Commons Select Committees last year, Liberal Democrat Climate Action Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The climate crisis is doing irreversible damage to our planet. The UK must cut its emissions to net-zero, be it by improving how we heat our homes or cutting emissions from flying.

This Citizens’ Assembly could help the government take the difficult decisions

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Greenpeace climate change petition – shouldn’t we be doing this sort of thing rather than still having “STOP BREXIT” on our home page?

The home page of the Liberal Democrat website, 10:55 22nd January 2020

This week, Greenpeace UK have collected almost 600,000 signatures for their petition to the government to act now on Climate Change.

The text of the petition gives a succinct list of initiatives which the government should be embarking on now to minimise the climate emergency:

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We let the remainers down – now we need to focus on a Green New Deal


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The Liberal Democrats let the EU Remainers down, right from the 2016 Referendum.

On Nick Clegg’s recommendation the architect of our disastrous 2015 election campaign was appointed as chief of strategy for the remain campaign. The result was entirely predictable.

The party then spent four years in the wilderness. A steady, but uninspiring, leadership from Vince and hard work from our local government activists saw the party slowly improve its position.

In the 2019 Euro Elections the Remainers put their faith in the Lib Dems, only to be let down again at the General Election. This time a combination of a terrible campaign, inexperienced and badly advised leadership, fear of Corbyn and First Past the Post ensured that faith in the Lib Dems was once again misplaced. Not all our fault, but with a good campaign and steady leadership we should have made 50 seats, and the picture today would have been different.

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Are we fiddling while Australia burns?


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The good news for Australia is that temperatures have fallen and rain is forecast.

I was born and brought up in Australia, so can imagine all too vividly what it is like to live through the horror of out of control bushfires. I’ve seen one from a distance, and even though I was safe it was frightening. Having to flee to the nearest beach in order to save yourself from burning to death is terrible to contemplate.

Although bushfires have always been part of the Australian experience, the number and intensity of the fires has increased. In the 1950s and 60s we had bush fires, but no ‘bush fire season’, as there is now.

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Two earthly halves locked in a downward spiral

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Jeremy Clarkson recently became a climate change believer when he experienced a dry lake in Cambodia.

I recently experienced something of the bush fire season in Australia. As well as all-pervasive smoke in most of Queensland and New South Wales, ABC Radio news is a constant stream of news on the bush fires – hundreds of them raging all the time. And it is still their spring.

Without trying to rehearse the dangers of climate change, I have one particular fear.

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28 November 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here are the rest…

  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights
  • Sarah Wollaston: Number of GP practices falls to record low as winter crisis approaches
  • Lib Dems won’t let your future melt away
  • Tory threat to Channel 4 is attempt to cover up Johnson’s cowardice

Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments on single mothers, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine, said:

So many of us in this country know the reality of the sacrifice and effort made by single parents. But yet again these comments show Boris Johnson is

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What’s in a (Net Zero) date?

One of the questions that’s likely to be asked in tonight’s Channel 4 environment leader’s debate is about the target date by which the UK should reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In the summer the government legislated for 2050. In September Liberal Democrat conference voted for our policy paper Tackling the Climate Emergency, which argued for 2045. The Labour conference voted for 2030 (though that’s not in their manifesto). The Green Party has gone for 2030, and Extinction Rebellion campaigns for 2025. 

Against these targets, our policy can look rather cautious. 2045 seems like a long way away; doesn’t that mean that government will do nothing until a few years beforehand and then rush to hit it? I’m sure Lib Dem Voice readers know what’s wrong with that argument – although this was the approach that a Conservative minister genuinely suggested to Ed Davey when we were in government.

Arguing over the net zero target date in isolation is simplistic and misleading. In reality, reaching net zero will require enormous effort, stretching over decades and affecting all sectors of the economy; it’s not something you can leave to the last moment. The real debate we need to have is over how we plan to meet the target; what’s the policy programme that cuts emissions fast where we know how to, and lays the foundations for progress where we don’t yet know the right solutions? And when you start to think about what’s needed for electricity, heating, transport, aviation, industry, farming and land use – and how you persuade people to change the way they live their lives, because it isn’t only about government action – you start to understand why near-term targets like 2025 or 2030 are an unrealisable fantasy.

Liberal Democrats set out, in our policy paper and in the manifesto, how we can make rapid progress in cutting emissions from power generation, through accelerating the uptake of renewables, and in heat in buildings, through a massive energy efficiency programme. Between them we think we can cut UK emissions by more than half over ten years.

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31 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.
  • Brexit hinders growth in green, clean cars
  • Davey: Labour’s spending plans “can’t be squared with the cost of Brexit”
  • Self-harm and assaults in prisons preventing rehabilitation
  • Lib Dems: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson both unfit for office

Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.

Today, Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats are launching their slogan for the General Election campaign: Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future, alongside a campaign poster launch.

This election is a once in a generation opportunity to reshape our politics, and give hope to the millions of people who want a fairer, brighter future.

The Liberal Democrats’ slogan reflects a positive …

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