Lib Dems push for the green vote: what does their manifesto say?

The Liberal Democrats like to be seen as the greenest of the three major parties, but do their claims stack up?

Below is what their manifesto has to say on climate change, pollution and a green economy.

Tackling climate change

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing this generation. Liberal Democrats are unwavering in our commitment: runaway climate change must be stopped, and politicians must follow the science in order to make that happen.

We will set a target for a zero-carbon Britain that doesn't contribute at all to global warming - making the British economy carbon-neutral overall by 2050, reducing carbon emissions in the UK by over 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 as a step on the way.

Our response to climate change will give the British people more secure energy supplies, reduce air pollution and related health costs - and create thousands of new jobs.

Liberal Democrats will:
  • Begin a ten-year programme of home insulation, offering a home energy improvement package of up to £10,000 per home, paid for by the savings from lower energy bills, and make sure every new home is fully energy-effi cient by improving building regulations.
  • Set a target for 40 per cent of UK electricity to come from clean, non-carbon-emitting sources by 2020, rising to 100 per cent by 2050, underpinned by guaranteed price support; and ensure that at least three-quarters of this new renewable energy comes from marine and offshore sources.
  • Set out a clear renewables routemap to 2050, covering grid access and investment in electricity networks, and develop new incentives to promote renewable heat.
  • Transform the electricity networks into a dynamic electricity grid that can better connect and integrate new, clean energy technologies particularly through the better use of sub-sea connections, leading to the development of a European Supergrid.
  • Invest up to £400 million in refurbishing shipyards in the North of England and Scotland so that they can manufacture offshore wind turbines and other marine renewable energy equipment.
  • Launch an 'Eco Cash-Back' scheme, for one year only, which will give you £400 if you install double glazing, replace an old boiler, or install micro-generation. If you choose micro-generation, you will be able to sell the energy back to the National Grid at a profit, with a more attractive feed-in tariff than under current government plans.
  • Set aside extra money for schools to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. They will pay back the loan over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate all public buildings.
  • Invest £140 million in a bus scrappage scheme that helps bus companies to replace old polluting buses with new low-carbon ones and creates jobs.
  • Block any new coal-fi red power stations - the most polluting form of power generation - unless they are accompanied by the highest level of carbon capture and storage facilities.
  • Reject a new generation of nuclear power stations; based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy.
  • Improve energy efficiency in the commercial and public sectors, by strengthening the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and requiring companies and government departments to report on their energy use and set targets for reducing it. We will set a 30 per cent energy efficiency improvement target for 2020, and will commit the government to the goals of the 10:10 campaign as a first step.

    Leading the fight against climate change

    Liberal Democrats are committed to securing a legally binding global agreement on limiting the increase in global temperatures to below 1.7 degrees Celsius. We believe that such an agreement must be based on reducing emissions overall, while equalising emissions between the developed and developing worlds - the principle of contraction and convergence. Strong and credible EU ambition, with effective UK leadership, are essential for achieving a global agreement, so that total greenhouse gas emissions peak no later than 2015. Liberal Democrats will work within Europe and internationally to give renewed urgency to global efforts to combat climate change.

    We will press the EU to:
  • Promote the transition to a low-carbon economy in Europe, by moving unilaterally and immediately to an EU emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020, adopting new long-term targets and policies for clean energy and energy efficiency; and expand investment in energy technology innovation, within Europe and
    internationally.
  • Boost investment in clean energy by reforming the EU emissions trading scheme - bringing in a tighter cap on emissions, auctioning as many allowances as possible, and encouraging other European countries to increase the use of reserve prices in allowance auctions.
  • Engage with major emitters and deepen diplomatic co-operation between the EU and emerging economies and developing countries, provide enhanced financial support for low-carbon solutions and lead international efforts to promote the transfer of technologies that will help to tackle climate change.
  • Work for the adoption of 'quick win' measures that could be initiated within the next few years such as reducing the use of hydrofl uorocarbons (HFCs).
  • At the UN level, we will support the provision of UN Adaptation Funds for developing countries, fi nanced from international emissions markets, such as a cap-and-trade system for international emissions from aviation and shipping.

    Protecting the global environment
    Humans are living beyond the ability of the planet to support life; more than 60 per cent of the basic ecosystems that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. Co-ordinated international action and effective global institutions are necessary to help create a sustainable future and improve the quality of life of all the world's citizens.

    Liberal Democrats will:
  • Work through the EU to make sure that the environment is fully integrated into the objectives of international institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation.
  • Work to increase the resourcing of the UN Environment Programme and improve the enforcement of international environmental treaties.
  • Protect the world's forests, not only to reduce carbon emissions but also to preserve this crucial reservoir of biodiversity. We will argue for an international target of zero net deforestation by 2020; support a new system of payments to developing countries to enable them to reduce deforestation; and adopt at EU - or, if necessary, at UK - level a new law making it illegal to import or possess timber produced illegally in foreign countries.
  • Work with other countries to develop an international labelling system for the environmental impact of products, helping consumers choose those with the least impact on resource use and pollution.

    Creating jobs that last
    The new economy must be very different from the old if it is to be sustainable, not just financially, but environmentally too. If we start now, Britain can leadthe new green economy that the world needs. We recognise that strong businesses create and sustain jobs and a Liberal Democrat government will support them in doing so.

    Liberal Democrats will begin our term in offi ce with a one-year job creation and green economic stimulus package. We have identifi ed £3.1 billion of public spending that can be used to create 100,000 jobs. This programme will be a fi rst step towards our target for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050.

    Our green stimulus plan will create 100,000 jobs. It comprises:
  • Investing up to £400 million in refurbishing shipyards in the North of England and Scotland so that they can manufacture offshore wind turbines and other marine renewable energy equipment. As part of this scheme we will write off backdated business rates demands from before April 2008 for businesses in ports.
  • Launching an 'Eco Cash-Back' scheme, for one year only, which will give you £400 if you install double glazing, replace an old boiler, or install micro-generation. If you choose micro-generation, you will be able to sell the energy back to the National Grid at a profit, with a more attractive feed-in tariff than under current government plans.
  • Setting aside extra money for schools who want to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. They will pay back the loan over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate every public building.
  • Bringing 250,000 empty homes back into use. People who own these homes will get a grant or a cheap loan to renovate them so that they can be used: grants if the home is for social housing, loans for private use.

    The Lib Dem manifesto can be viewed in full here.

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