Tag Archives: climate change

Scotland’s choices on fracking

Last week Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference debated lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction.

It was an erudite debate, and I think that it is fair to summarise the argument in favour of lifting the moratorium as follows:

Liberals believe in evidence-based policy making and the scientific method.
The moratorium was put in place to allow an independent expert scientific panel to examine how unconventional oil and gas extraction could work in Scotland.
Just such a panel published a report in July 2014.
The experts say “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”
Therefore the moratorium has served its purpose and should now be lifted. To maintain it, in the face of scientific evidence, would be a cynical politically-motivated move.

However, it is worth remembering that the 2014 Independent Report was a large document and the two sentences quoted do not cover its complete findings. In fact the quote “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock” is immediately preceded by “The impact of unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases is not definitive,” and immediately followed by “…but lifecycle analysis of an unconventional hydrocarbon industry is required to inform the debate, and provide a clearer view on the impact of their development.”

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Featherstone: Lib Dems will fight to protect renewables sector

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsEnergy and Climate Change spokesperson Lynne Featherstone has accused the government (perfectly reasonably) of making “ideological cuts” to the renewables sector. Speaking ahead of a Lords debate on the Energy Bill tomorrow, she said:

Liberal Democrats have made changes to the Government’s Energy Bill in the House of Lords, and will be fighting to protect onshore wind subsidies in the debate.

We will be fighting to keep these changes, which will help protect our renewable energy industry in the face of brutal Conservative cuts.

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Tim Farron: Government should hang its head in shame over fracking in national parks

Tim Farron has reacted to the Commons vote which enabled tracking under national parks in England. His constituency has two national parks.

He said:

The Government today relaxed the rules on fracking around and under National Parks and other protected sites. The Government used a parliamentary wheeze to pass the change with no parliamentary debate.

Last week the Government signed up to a landmark climate change deal and is now abandoning those pledges to create a market for another fossil fuel.

Our National Parks and areas of Scientific Interest are now at risk and the Government should hang its head in shame.”

It is disgraceful that the government are ploughing ahead with fracking at the same time as scrapping the Carbon Capture and Storage scheme which is important for mitigating against climate change.

He was on Radio 4’s PM programme this evening. You can listen here at around 8.35 minutes in.

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Farron calls for flood protection for small businesses and much more in Commons speech

Tim Farron has rightly been preoccupied with helping his constituents with the aftermath of the terrible flooding which has hit his Cumbria constituency. His most recent initiative is to ask the Government to extend the Flood Re scheme, which will give insurance protection to home-owners in areas at risk from flooding, to small businesses from April next year.

He cites 125,000 businesses which have either been refused cover completely or quoted an unaffordable price for insurance.

Tim said:

As devastating as the floods have been for home owners here in Cumbria, it has been equally catastrophic for the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.

With the impact of climate change this isn’t going to be the last time communities are hit by flooding and it will become more and more difficult for small businesses to get affordable insurance.

The Government needs to get serious about the situation we are in and extend the Flood Re scheme to small businesses, before even more see their businesses devastated by the financial cost of flooding.

Tim won praise from the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday for making the point that Cumbria’s businesses were open and looking for custom:

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Ed Davey writes…Nous sommes Paris

Wow! How did that happen? The United Nations has just agreed the first ever universal climate deal – and it’s better for the global environment than anyone had dared hope for.

For once, believe hyperbole: this is the most significant international agreement since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.

Here’s just 5 things from Paris that make this so good:

In the run up to Paris, more than 180 countries made commitments to cut emissions significantly;

  1. They agreed a surprisingly strong 5 year review or “ratchet” mechanism for bolder future commitments to cut emissions further;
  2. They backed a new long term goal to make sure global warming stays “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, heading to greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century – meaning the effective ending of fossil fuels;
  3. Increased support for poorer countries to help them – whether in the low carbon transition or in adapting to climate change impacts already with us;
  4. Huge progress on the “rules” for how we decarbonise the world, including key technical stuff on audit and accounting and crucially, strong transparency rules, so we know what countries are actually doing.
  5. And if you don’t believe me, listen to the majority of NGOs: from Greenpeace to Christian Aid, there’s been a huge welcome. And those businesses and financial institutions who take climate seriously are predicting a massive rise in investment in clean green technology.
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Climate change deal shows there has never been a better time to support the Lib Dems

The world woke yesterday morning to an early Christmas gift. Not a novelty knitted jumper or bottle of tipple, but something more poignant altogether. Unconventionally, the gift in question was not only immaterial, but universal, unquantifiable, and intergenerational: the prospect of a deal on climate change in Paris.

The final agreement includes a commitment to keeping temperature rises ‘significantly below’ 2C, with the aim of 1.5C as a target. Whilst 2 degrees may sound inconsequential, the difference between today’s average global temperature and that during the last ice age is around 5 degrees. Our climate has never changed so rapidly, it’s unequivocally due to human activity, and avoiding the problem could result in temperature rises of 5-6C by the end of this century. Ask a climate scientist to describe what a 5-degree-world would be like, and you might just wish that you hadn’t.

Whilst a UN agreement provides a mandate for action, the thorny issue of how we get there is likely to make the COP21 negotiations look like a doddle. To this end, we must turn to the pillars of reasoned progress: science and politics. Earlier this year, the Tyndall centre (host to some of the world’s leading climate scientists) published an analysis of future climate projections for the 21st century: exploring 400 different possible ‘routes’ to achieving what has since been agreed in Paris. Of those, 86% rely on unproven technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). For the remaining scenarios, emissions would have had to have peaked in the past at around 2010. Assuming technology will solve the climate problem is an aspiration, not a grounded projection. Whilst it’s unlikely that non-existent technologies will fit the bill, it’s even less-likely that Dr. Emmett Brown will be using his DeLorian to help us fix the emissions of the past.

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Lib Dems welcome Paris climate agreement

Commenting on the Paris Agreement Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP said :

The landmark agreement that has been reached in Paris must be welcomed as a vital step in combating climate change.

The Government must now urgently rethink its cuts to renewable energy which are undermining the achievements of Ed Davey and Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government in promoting green energy.

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Ed Davey writes: On the eve of a climate breakthrough …

 

Whatever the press report on the Paris UN Climate Change agreement, it’s already clear there are 3 things we should remind people about:

  • first, it’s great news the whole world has come together to make the first ever global climate change agreement, so elusive over the last 25 years;
  • second, the impressive commitments to cut greenhouse gases are huge steps forward – and should make the remaining vital steps easier and cheaper;
  • third, Liberal Democrats played a major role towards this agreement – in leading the UK’s policy for Paris, in shaping the European Union’s and by representing the UK at the previous 5 UN climate summits – the essential building blocks for this weekend’s success in Paris.
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Ed Davey warns about alliances between anti EU campaigners and climate change deniers

Former Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has warned about alliances developing between climate change sceptics and anti EU campaigners.

The Guardian reports that he has written to the head of the Vote Leave campaign to point out the damage associating with those who dispute climate change could do to their campaign and, ultimately, to the UK’s international reputation:

Davey writes: “The campaign you lead, Vote Leave, seems ready to ally itself with climate change deniers who are on the wrong side of scientific evidence and international consensus … If you will not unequivocally distance yourself from both

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Robin Teverson writes … Keeping the green in the Green Investment Bank

Everybody knows that when you want to win an argument, you need to ‘walk the talk’.  Doing the opposite to what you preach tends to fatally undermine your case.

When that argument is persuading the rest of the world, in Paris, to tackle the root causes of climate change, your actions back home act as a global shop window.

But saying one thing, and doing another, is exactly the course this Tory government has taken over green issues. And they do it with no apparent embarrassment, or even understanding of the problem.

So we have the Foreign Secretary in the United Nations, and Cameron at the opening of COP21 in Paris making speeches that even Lib Dems would applaud.  But what’s the track record back here in Britain where they drive the nitty-gritty of climate policy?

Take the Green Investment Bank.  Set up by Vince Cable in 2012, a Lib Dem manifesto commitment in 2010, over its short existence it has successfully invested £2.3 billion into the UK’s green economy bringing in a further £7 billion in from the private sector.  Not just that, its operations are already profitable.  As a result the UK has more renewables, more combined heat and power plants, more energy efficient road lighting, more heat pumps.  It has been a great Coalition success, down to Lib Dems in government.

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Climate change dangers show why Liberal Democrats are needed in government

Next week the fate of the world is going to be decided. That is a statement that we have rarely, if ever, been able to say with any certainty. But the consequences of another year, five years or decade without a global climate change agreement in the form of a legally binding treaty on all major global polluters could see the progress of degradation accelerate to a point where any further action would be mostly damage control. That is the solemn mandate of the Paris Cop21 Climate Conference, co-operate or face consequences, consequences that will be more tangible than ever before.

As global temperature rise being successfully held at 2 degrees Celsius looks more and more improbable, and unprecedented ice-cap melt (like that of Greenland in 2012) continues to stun Arctic communities and swell the global oceans, the level of climate disruption is now undeniably enormous. Even the kind of serious concerted action we all hope for in Paris will not be enough for those who are already set to face the horrors of the degree of environmental disruption we have now made inevitable. The most striking case of all? The chain of Pacific islands that form the state of Kiribati. Climate scientists have suggested that by 2100, or even earlier, rising sea levels will result in the full submersion of the islands.

This will be a decisive moment in human history. At this point our human capacity for destruction will have been fully realised, we will have effectively destroyed an entire nation. Global leaders in Paris who think that at their feet is placed an impossible and sobering task should be reminded of just how sobering a task lies at the feet of Anote Tong, Kiribati’s President, who every year must plan for the future awaiting a people who will lose the very land they call home to the sea, on account of our actions.

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Lynne Featherstone writes…March with me for a pledge we can be proud of

The long awaited Paris talks on climate change are finally upon us. This is a chance for the world to come together to address the biggest threat facing humanity and decide on a collective response.

As a party we have been extremely committed to the cause of addressing climate change for many years and we’re not going to stop now. Nick Clegg signed a pledge with David Cameron and Ed Miliband for the UK Government to seek a deal in Paris to limit temperature rises to 2 degrees. We need to make sure this happens.

I am speaking at the big climate rally in London on 29th November – The People’s March – and will be marching with Green Liberal Democrats to make our voice heard.

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Lynne Featherstone writes… Tories’ huge backward step on climate change

A few wind turbines
Today the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, will give a speech to update us all on the Government’s energy policy. What she will say has been widely trailed and it contains some seriously bad news.

The last six months have seen a relentless and systematic unravelling of the excellent work done by Ed Davey to develop the green economy. The Government is now going one step further to deprioritise decarbonisation as a main goal, in favour of making energy security its number one priority. It does not seem to realise it is possible to deliver on both.

Amber Rudd will say she plans to curb the growth of renewable industries even further, with the logical conclusion that there must be an increase in nuclear and gas to meet energy needs. This means expensive subsidies paid to other countries, rather than investment in renewables in the UK, and also fracking.

The most baffling aspect of the Government’s abandonment of the renewable sector is the fact there is such a strong business case for investing in green industries. We might understand their actions if it was just about environmental concern, which Conservatives have never been strong on, and we know of the power wielded by backbench climate-change deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists. But to ignore the long-term economic case in favour of short-term cash gains is extraordinary. The UK has been a world leader in this sector and continuing to invest and develop these job-creating industries while we have a competitive advantage and while the costs of producing renewable energy are plummeting is simply good economic sense.

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Farron and Davey attack Tories’ “systematic unravelling” of our commitment to tackle climate change

Tim Farron and Ed Davey have written to Davey’s Conservative successor as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd to challenge her on her record so far of undermining practically everything the Liberal Democrats brought to the table. They warn her that her actions jeopardise the UK’s chances of meeting legally binding climate change targets. Their full letter is published below:

We are writing to you regarding our concerns for the future of Britain’s renewable industries and our global leadership on climate change.

We are utterly appalled at the systematic unravelling of the renewables industries that is taking place under your leadership. We stand with business executives, trade associations and environmental NGOs and call for an end to this ideological assault on green energy which is economically nonsensical and is undermining Britain’s ability to push for a more ambitious global Climate Change Treaty at the UN in Paris this December.

Despite your statement in May this year that you planned to unleash a ‘solar revolution’, your department has enacted a series of devastating policies which make a mockery of this and will ultimately dismantle much of the work on green policy that the Liberal Democrats achieved in Government, costing thousands of jobs and jeopardising our economic future. Severe cuts to solar and wind subsidies, as well as ending the Green Deal and abolishing Zero Carbon Homes, together mean that progress towards tackling climate change is fundamentally undermined.

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Carmichael and Davey blast Tories’ withdrawal of subsidies for onshore wind

A few wind turbinesWe know that during the coalition years the Liberal Democrats ensured subsidies for onshore wind. The Guardian managed to give precisely 2 and a  bit lines at the bottom of their report to Ed Davey. He was the Energy and Climate Change Secretary who fought tooth and nail to protect renewables, but there’s no mention of that. Ed is quoted as saying:

Anti-wind power Tories will put up electricity bills, cut green jobs and reduce investment.

Alistair Carmichael also took the Tories to task for what he called a “lamentable sop to the Tory right.”

This is full-throttle Tory energy policy.

Their decision to end the renewables obligation for onshore wind is a backwards step for the UK’s energy mix.

It is a lamentable sop to the Tory right-wing who would sooner have us concede the battle on climate change than commit properly to renewables. This blinkered and outdated view of the world is bad news for the environment, but it is also bad news for jobs and investment.

In coalition government Liberal Democrats blocked these madcap Tory ideas. In opposition, we will lead the campaign against them.

 

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Ed Davey critical of climate change targets

On Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Ed Davey was highly critical of the G7’s pledge to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century.

He said:

It is so symbolic for the G7, the largest, richest countries in the world who have built their economies on fossil fuels, to say they’ve got to get rid of them. It’s definitely historic and symbolic.

But I have two concerns though. They are talking about the end of the century, and I don’t think climate science says we have got that long. I think we have to move further and faster.

And I also worry that if you set targets that are so long – 85 years away – I’m not sure how meaningful they are. I think it would give some countries an excuse for inaction, when they’ve got to be acting now, in this current decade.

At the end of this year we’ve got the very important Climate Change Summit in Paris. I hope we are not going to end up at that summit talking about targets at the end of the century. We need to be talking about targets at the end of the next decade.

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Senior renewable energy figures support Lib Dem involvement in next Government

Twenty figures from the renewable energy industry have written to the Independent on Sunday to say that they want Liberal Democrats to be involved in the next Government because of our record, in adverse circumstances, in this one. They said:

When the Coalition took office, both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledged to make it the ‘greenest government ever’.

Liberal Democrats kept to that pledge. Under the leadership of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, they have consistently acted to make this country cleaner, greener and more open to investment in renewables.  Some £37 billion has been invested in renewable energy, supporting 460,000 jobs as of 2013, reducing our carbon emissions and improving Britain’s energy security.

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Robin Teverson writes … Doing cold smarter

 

In the world of politics, energy is all too often around building shiny new power stations – whether gas or nuclear.  Rather more positively it is about renewables – erecting wind or solar farms, and wind arrays off-shore.

Just recently, with Lib Dems in Government and in charge of DECC, we’ve got rather more sophisticated. Nowadays we also think about the demand side of the equation. Why not spread demand more evenly and avoid having to build all that expensive excess capacity?  Or even better, increase energy efficiency to such a degree that we don’t need to generate so much power and heat in the first place.

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Independent on Sunday praises Nick Clegg and Ed Davey for “keeping the low carbon show on the road”

Davey Windmills - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAn Independent on Sunday editorial today acknowledges the contribution made by the Liberal Democrats to furthering the green agenda while in government. They give Nick Clegg and Ed Davey the credit for driving it forward in the face of opposition from our coalition partners, who come in for some criticism:

The IoS has been disappointed with the Conservatives’ record on the environment. We were prepared to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt when he put a windmill on his roof and when he proclaimed his intention that the coalition would be the greenest government ever, but if Mr Davey is now able to make that qualified claim, it is despite Mr Cameron, not because of him.

The turning point was George Osborne’s “slowest ship in the convoy” speech to the Tory party conference in 2011, when he said Britain would go along with EU plans for green energy but would not be a leader.

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Ed Davey MP writes… Green energy auction paves way for 27 new renewables projects and thousands of green jobs across the UK

A few wind turbinesThis morning I announced the results of the first auction for green energy generation. The results are impressive – more clean energy at lower costs.

Thanks to this first renewable electricity competition of its kind, I have offered contracts to 27 renewable energy projects across the UK.  Enough to power 1.4 million homes and save the equivalent carbon emissions of taking 2 million cars off the road.

The projects include offshore wind and onshore wind and solar, and will create thousands of green jobs.

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Tim Farron writes… Climate change must be the pressing issue for liberals

It is human nature that the immediate threats are those that grab our attention. More longer-term dangers – like climate change can appear to be – are harder to keep high on the agenda. Come another crisis, it too easily slips off. So it might seem strange, especially in the wake of recent events, to say that climate change is the biggest threat to Liberalism. This is what Duncan Brack, Neil Stockley and I argue in Centreforum’s publication of “The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025,” published this week here:
centreforum.org/index.php/mainpublications/716-economic-liberalism-climate-change-green-growth

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Opinion: Insulation not fossil fuel subsidies

Earlier this week parliament overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill calling for a moratorium on fracking.

The challenge that the UK faces is that we are particularly dependent on natural gas. The vast majority of us have gas boilers and heating makes up much of the gas used in the UK. Weaning ourselves off gas boilers isn’t easy. There are renewable alternatives such as heat pumps but these only work in very well insulated homes. And there’s the rub. Around 70% of homes in the UK are still not well insulated, and a good portion of those have solid walls which are difficult and expensive to insulate.

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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.

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Ed Davey MP writes…An Autumn Statement for more green energy and more help to keep energy bills down.

Liberal Democrats in Government already have a record of green energy delivery to be proud of.  Renewable electricity generation and investment have both more than doubled since 2010 and our reforms will create 250,000 low carbon jobs by the end of the decade.  Britain is ranked No.1 in the world for offshore wind investment, onshore wind now produces around 5% of the UK’s electricity and solar generating capacity increased by 60% last year.

But is that where the story ends?  No, and our ambition outlined in the Autumn Statement proves it.  The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project is something I asked my Department to look into some time ago.  We’ve now announced the initial talks we’ve had with the Swansea team will be stepped up a gear and it’s possible formal negotiations could start as early as next month.

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Tim Farron MP writes…Green Climate Fund shows this government is leading the world

We often forget to say thank you, because we’re straight on to the next thing. But today, I want to say thank you to everyone – from  our members, activists, staff, councillors, MPs and Peers to Ed Davey for the success we’ve seen as a party on the Green Climate Fund. Even if climate change doesn’t get your heart racing, if you want evidence that the Lib Dems in the Coalition are alive and kicking – look no further. Cameron’s “green crap” attitude hasn’t stopped us leading the world on climate change. We’ve got a lot more to do – but this is good news that should give us confidence.

Set up five years ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, the Green Climate Fund is designed – over time – to replace the spaghetti system of existing funds, and become the main channel for finance to help developing countries reduce emissions and protect themselves from dangerous climate change. It was one of the outcomes which saved the Copenhagen climate conference from complete failure.

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Ed Davey MP writes….The politics of renewables

Yesterday I was in Manchester speaking at the RenewableUK Annual Conference, and then on to see a fascinating energy efficiency project led by students in Parrs Wood School in John Leech’s constituency.

My Manchester speech focused on the politics of renewables – both the good news and the bad.

The good news is that renewables investment is in great shape. Since 2010, an average £7 billion a year has been invested – more than double that under Labour’s last term in office.  We are now seen as No.1 in the world for attracting investment in offshore wind, wave and tidal.

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Stephen Lloyd MP writes…Ed’s climate change deal shows how UK can reform EU


Yesterday the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament reminded us thatthere are two EU stories around at the moment. Sadly one is getting far more attention than the other! One is about the Prime Minister “standing up to Europe” and refusing to pay a £1.7bn demand. The other which is ultimately of much greater significance, concerns the EU agreeing an ambitious climate change deal, under British leadership, as described by Catherine Bearder and Ed Davey recently on LDV.

Liberal Democrats can rightly be proud that as the greenest of the main British political parties and as “the party of in” we have shown …

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Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

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Ed Davey MP writes…Signed, sealed and delivered, an ambitious climate change deal for Europe

Wind turbine - Some rights reserved by thomas vlWe’ve done it!  For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far.  While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.

What have we achieved?  An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030.  Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… EU climate targets thanks to Ed Davey and Lib Dems

Green wind farmThis week, European leaders including David Cameron thrashed out an agreement on the EU’s climate change targets up until 2030.

The EU has been a world leader in the fight against climate change, becoming the first region to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the face of the financial crisis, leaders have become more nervous and the momentum behind the drive towards a greener economy has started to wane.

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