Tag Archives: green policy

This Weekend You Can Help Stop the Climate Emergency

I’ll admit it, I do not always come to conference fully prepared.  Well, to be honest, I’m often reading the motions or amendments for the first time in the hall.  As a result I have sat in debates and wondered “why has Y been carved out” or “why hasn’t this great idea been extended to X” and occasionally “how on earth has line Z made it in”!

I know I am not the only one –speakers in debates often raise everything from minor tweaks to wholly new directions in policy in their speeches and interventions, only for a summation speech to respond with the reproving reminder “some good points have been made and we would have liked to have considered them at the consultation stage but alas they were not raised…..”

Well conference-goers, do not spend your weekend being (as I have) a disappointed would-be policy tweaker. Bring your ideas to the Consultative Sessions!

In particular, as a member of the snappily-titled Climate Change and Low-Carbon Economy Policy Working Group I want to urge you to come and spend your Saturday lunchtime in our clean, green company.

The Working Group has produced an initial consultation paper, but detailed policy formulation is still at an early stage so your thoughts, ideas and inspiration on this cornerstone of Lib Dem policy would be very welcome.  We put forward some excellent policies in the 2017 manifesto that have been developed recently by the Vision for Britain: Clean, Green and Carbon Free report.  Our task as a Working Group is to build on this strong base.

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Radical Ideas for the Future

At the moment, virtually all of our policies – save for our stance on the EU – amount to tinkering at the edges of a flawed, if not broken, political system. This is a result of the fact that there is generally a fair amount of consensus within mainstream politics on a number of key issues.

All parties agree that we need to build more housing, that we need more funding of schools, the NHS and the police, and that we need to protect the environment. The major policy debates at the moment concern immigration, nationalisation of public infrastructure, the EU, education and public sector borrowing – most of which are couched in simple binary yes/no terms, depending on whether you support Labour or the Tories.

Rather than trying to join in the political consensus or meet Labour and the Tories halfway (e.g. see our current policy on housing), I genuinely believe that we have an opportunity to pursue an alternative set of policies that will mark us out as distinct.

Along with electoral reform and being pro-European, six policy ideas from various places within the liberal political tradition, come to mind:

1. A national housebuilding company

A national construction company set up to build houses, with the government taking a majority stake and offering financial guarantees. Instead of just pledging a high-sounding number of homes to be built each year and leaving it to the private sector, a government-backed company would have the opportunity to take responsibility for recruiting and training construction workers (with a focus on British workers), building homes and maintaining homes – with profits going back to the Treasury.

Combined with relaxing the rules preventing local authorities from borrowing to fund social housing, a national housebuilding company would be an exciting yet pragmatic way of building homes while balancing the risk and reward of construction projects.

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Nature can’t be shuffled around like politicians or for profit

lichen - ramalina siliquosaBiodiversity offsetting? It sounds as interesting as a ministerial reshuffle. But a reshuffle is here today, gone tomorrow. The government’s proposal to allow developers to build over wildlife spots providing they ‘recreate’ them elsewhere is more than a minor change within the incomprehensible thicket of environmental rules. Biodiversity offsetting could threaten our fragile biodiverse landscapes.

Owen Paterson told the Independent:

For the developer there are massive advantages. You’d have certainty, you’d have clarity, and you’d have speed and a massive reduction of cost. But you’d also leave the environment in a better place than you found it for the longer term.

Wildlife groups are nervous.

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Green groups say all main parties failing on green leadership

Nick Clegg Cathkin MarshSeven key environment groups have given their verdict on the environmental performance of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. Their report, Green Standard 2013, is pretty condemning.

After a promising first few months, the coalition government and the UK’s senior politicians have been largely silent about the UK’s environmental goals. The prime minister’s promise that he would lead “the greenest government ever” has been devalued by the chancellor’s framing of high environmental standards as a threat to economic success.

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How hard are the Lib Dems willing to fight for their green reputation?

In a thoughtful piece on Business Green, editor James Murray asks:

How hard are the Lib Dems willing to fight for their green reputation?

Lib Dem bird green 700To paraphrase him, he says “move over Green Party”:

It is the Lib Dems that have repeatedly pioneered demanding yet largely realistic green policies. You might not have agreed with every green policy they proposed – for example, the party’s long standing opposition to nuclear power continues to divide environmentalists – but for much of the past 20 years the Party has maintained an admirably distinctive green voice at Westminster.

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