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Green Liberal Democrats - Party Leadership Election Environmental Q&A 8) The EU

June 24, 2015 6:30 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.

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

Q8. In the debate on Britain's membership of the EU, what do you intend to do to champion the EU's role in global action on environmental issues?

Tim FarronTim Farron

Norman Lamb Norman Lamb

I think the role the EU plays in protecting the environment is one of the strongest reasons for supporting UK membership, and I was disappointed it didn't play a bigger role in our European campaign last year. EU legislation has clearly been a positive force for Britain's environment - for example, in setting tough emissions standards for new cars, or in forcing the government to clean up air pollution in our big cities (which currently contributes to an estimated 29,000 deaths a year). Also, of course, through the EU, the UK can play a much more prominent role in international negotiations, for example the climate talks currently under way.

There are some areas currently within the EU's jurisdiction that would be better devolved to national governments or local communities. Action to protect the environment is certainly not one of them. My dad, Professor Hubert Lamb, who was a global leader in the science of climate, was one of first scientists to identify the great cycles of climate with warm periods interspersed with ice ages. I grew up listening to him talking about the impact of warming on many communities around the world and of how climate change had the power to displace large populations from low lying areas threatened by sea level rise. Since then the consensus has grown that man's influence is leading to profound change. Along with whole communities disappearing beneath the water, dozens of countries desiccated and depopulated around the equator, famine, and global migration and conflict on a vast scale. The impact for all of us will be immense if we don't take decisive action. As Liberal Democrats we must persuade people that this scale of problem cannot be solved by any one country alone, and show what the impact could be for us and our way of life if we do not act decisively.