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Green Liberal Democrats - Party Leadership Election Environmental Q&A 1) Green Growth

June 17, 2015 9:20 PM
By Tim Farron and Norman Lamb

The Green Liberal Democrats have sent the two leadership candidates a series of questions, to inform party members, through their responses, about their green credentials.

Over the next few days in the run up to our annual conference in Manchester on June 27th, we will be publishing their answers, one question at a time.

Q1. Would you describe the economic growth in the final years of the Coalition as "green growth" and how do you see the low carbon economy developing in the UK?

Norman Lamb

Tim Farron

Norman Lamb MP at the 2014 GLD Conference

Norman addresses last year's GLD conference in Peterborough

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has been named as a ‘Campaign Champion’ by a national charity for his work on road safety and sustainable transport.

Tim Farron being honoured for road safety and sustainable transport campaigning

The rhetoric from the Tory party may not have suggested it, but the last government was Britain's greenest government ever. We doubled renewable electricity, created the world's first low-carbon electricity market, and led the way on building onshore wind farms. This would not have happened without Liberal Democrat ministers like Ed Davey and Chris Huhne fighting consistently for green issues around the Cabinet table. The breakthrough in the fight for a green economy will come when renewable electricity becomes cheaper than carbon-generated electricity and that goal is now within reach. We have to keep investing not just in renewable energy generation, but also in the underlying technology to make green energy cheaper and more efficient, so Britain retains her leading role in the global knowledge economy in the years ahead.

However, having said all of that, we also need to go much further. I have argued for a major investment in getting all homes properly insulated over a two year period, funded by the Government. We have the most energy inefficient housing stock in Europe. There has been a total failure to properly address this. Governments are prepared to fund tax cuts so let's do this - every family would benefit from lower energy bills and the carbon saving would be enormous. I would also embark on a major investment programme to make all our towns and cities cycle friendly. This would provide a major boost to public health and also reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

No, sadly not. Economic growth will not be truly green until it produces zero net carbon emissions and uses zero net resources, and we are many years away from both those objectives. However, thanks to Liberal Democrat ministers, the coalition government made significant steps in the right direction, including adopting ambitious carbon targets for the Fourth Carbon Budget (a 50 per cent cut in emissions by the mid 2020s), securing long-term funding for renewable energy, creating a new framework to deliver support most cost-effectively to low-carbon energy, establishing the Green Investment Bank, providing support for carbon capture and storage and low-emission vehicles and much more. I fear we will see the Conservatives dismantling some of this in the next five years - starting, as they already are, by withdrawing support for the cheapest form of renewable energy, onshore wind.