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Green Liberal Democrats

Substantive motion as passed by conference March 2015

Five Green Laws Five Green Laws Infographic

Conference welcomes green achievements introduced by Liberal Democrats in Government such as:

  1. Securing European Union agreement to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2030.
  2. The creation of the world's first Green Investment Bank.
  3. The publication of the National Pollinator Strategy.
  4. Planting a million trees.
  5. Funding the opening of the remainder of the English coastal path.
  6. The introduction of a levy on plastic bags in England.
  7. The creation of the Zero Carbon Home Standard.
  8. Significant investment in research and development for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.
  9. The creation of a low carbon electricity market, with renewable electricity generation and investment more than doubling.
  10. Establishing the world's first Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Conference notes:

  1. Successive Conservative Secretaries of State proposed the sell-off of public forests and the merger of Natural England with the Environment Agency, removing the independent voice for nature, proposals blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
  2. Opposition by Conservatives to onshore wind and other renewable electricity projects.
  3. The attempts by Conservatives to water down the commitments made in the Fourth Carbon Budget.

Conference believes that:

  1. Investment in low-carbon and resource-efficient technologies and infrastructure must lie at the heart of Britain's industrial strategy, helping to secure jobs, exports and long-term prosperity.
  2. Access to nature can improve both physical and mental health as well as providing space for recreation and relaxation.
  3. Protecting biodiversity, green spaces, clean air, water and rivers is essential for our wellbeing.
  4. We still live in a 'throwaway society' with too much material discarded that could be reused or recycled.
  5. Transport is a major source of pollution and more must be done to keep heavily polluting lories out of town centres, for example through a rail freight strategy.
  6. Carbon dioxide is the most significant contributor to climate change and emmissions must be dramatically reduced domestically and internationally.
  7. Home energy efficiency can save money as well as reducing harmful emissions.

Conference calls for the next Government to legislate for 'Five Green Laws' including:

  1. A Nature Act, with measures to conserve nature and provide access to it, including:
    1. The placing of the Natural Capital Committee on a statutory footing.
    2. Publication of a 25-year plan for recovering nature, including how to reverse the decline of UK species and their habitats and ensure that bees and other insects are able to fulfil their important role as crop pollinators.
    3. The introduction of a new Public Sector Sustainability Duty.
    4. A package to protect the world's oceans and marine environment.
    5. Implementation of the findings of the Independent Panel on Forestry by creating a new public body, free from political interference and securely funded, to build the estate's public value.
  2. A 'Resource Efficiency and Zero Waste Britain Act', to help create a 'circular economy' and minimise waste, by:
    1. Tasking the Natural Capital Committee with identifying the key resources being used unsustainably and recommending legally binding targets for reducing their net consumption.
    2. Using smart regulation and public procurement to support circular economy models, including promoting design that enhances repairability, reuse and recyclability, and requiring specified products to be sold with parts and labour guarantees for at least five years to ensure people benefit from products which are made to last.
    3. Setting a sustainable water abstraction regime, with all unsustainable licences revoked.
    4. Introducing measures like open tendering to help local authorities keep the cost of waste collection down.
    5. The introduction of a National Waste Brokerage Service, based on the Scottish model, where businesses bid for collection of certain materials from a range of public service providers such as Local Authorities, the NHS and schools.
    6. Increased penalties for waste crimes, moving from an average fine of £50,000 to £75,000 and from an average sentence of 12 to 18 months.
    7. Introduction of a recycling target of 70% for waste in England.
    8. Creating an Office of Resource Management, working across Defra, DCLG and BIS to ensure that government actions support these aims for resource efficiency and waste minimisation without placing excessive burdens on individuals or businesses.
  3. A Green Transport Act, to reduce harmful impacts of transport including air and noise pollution by:
    1. Setting a statutory target of 2030 by which time all major, regularly used rail routes will need to be electrified.
    2. Ensuring that every new bus and taxi is Ultra Low Emission from 2030 and banning high emission vehicles from the road after 2040.
    3. The creation of Low Emission Zones with a national air quality plan including a legal requirement targeted at the most polluted towns and cities.
    4. Giving local authorities the power to reduce speed limits outside schools to 10mph.
    5. Ensuring that all new rail franchises include a stronger focus on customers.
    6. Actively promote cycling and walking in order to improve health and air quality significantly.
  4. A Zero Carbon Britain Act, to combat climate change by:
    1. Introducing a new legally-binding target for Zero Carbon Britain by 2050, to be monitored and audited by the Climate Change Committee.
    2. Implementing a 2030 power sector decarbonisation target of 50-100g per kWh and a ban on coal power generation (without Carbon Capture and Storage) by 2025.
    3. Giving full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank, to boost further investment in low carbon technologies.
    4. Establishing an Office for Accelerated Low Carbon Innovation, to support the fast-tracking of green technologies including tidal power, renewable heat, ultra-low emission vehicles, energy storage and Carbon Capture and Storage.
  5. A Green Buildings Act, to make our homes and buildings greener by:
    1. Introducing a Council Tax discount for significant improvements in energy efficiency in homes.
    2. Setting ambitious targets for all social and private rented homes to reach Energy Performance Certificates Band C by 2027.
    3. Bringing forward a new legal framework to require regulators to facilitate the development of deep geothermal heat, large-scale heat pumps, waste industrial heat and energy storage systems.
    4. Introducing new energy efficiency and heat saving regulations to reduce energy use.
    5. Treating upgrading the energy performance of housing stock as a priority, high-added-value national infrastructure investment, to be designated as capital expenditure.
    6. Adopting a comprehensive strategy to tackle fuel poverty in the social housing and privately rented sectors with, as a first step, a commitment to bring all fuel-poor homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C or above by 2027.