Leader Tim Farron spoke of the Lib Dems’ “positive vision for the future” at the official manifesto launch earlier this evening (17 May). A headline pledge to deliver a second EU referendum that “gives the final say to the British people” is backed up by a vow to incorporate existing EU environmental protections.

The 100-page manifesto maintains that the Party is “determined that we live up to our environmental obligations”. As such, the document contains five green laws: a Green Transport Act, a Zero-Carbon Britain Act, a Nature Act, a Green Buildings Act, and a Zero-Waste Act.

“Climate change and air pollution threaten our future – but by investing in renewable energy and stopping the waste of energy and natural resources, we can protect our health and the environment, and boost the economy,” the manifesto reads.

Clean air and green transport

The Lib Dems promise to pass a Green Transport Act and support the manufacture of low-emission and electric vehicles (EVs). A new Air Quality Plan would include a diesel scrappage scheme, a plan for all private hire vehicles and buses in urban areas to run on ultra-low emission or zero-emission fuels within five years, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025. The Party would also extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) to ten more towns and cities.

“It’s great to see the Lib Dems targeting the scandal of air pollution,” commented Friends of the Earth campaigner David Timms. “Too many vulnerable lives are blighted by dirty air and this manifesto contains some good measures, such as a scrappage scheme and low-emissions zones, to tackle this public health crisis.”

Low-carbon energy and green jobs

At the heart of the Lib Dems plan to decarbonise the UK’s energy system lies a bid to pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act which sets a legally-binding target to deliver net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

To achieve this ambitious target, the Party promises to establish a Britain Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise private sector investment in low-carbon infrastructure. The Lib Dems match Labour’s pledge to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, and promise to give the go-ahead for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

The manifesto also contains a commitment to invest in technologies such as energy storage, smart grids and carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Lib Dems oppose fracking but suggest that nuclear will play a role in the UK’s electricity supply.

Circular economy (5p coffee cup charge)

“Britain’s economy fails to make the most efficient use of natural resources,” the manifesto reads. “We aim to cut waste, increase recovery, reuse and recycling and move towards the so-called ‘circular economy’ in which resource use, waste and pollution are minimised and product lifetimes are extended.”

A desire to shift the UK towards a circular economy is illustrated in the manifesto through a proposed Zero Waste Act, which introduces incentives for businesses to improve resource efficiency. Crucially, Act would establish a recycling target of 70% in England and introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.

Greener homes

The Lib Dems pledge to make energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority. A new Green Buildings Act would include a plan for every home in England to achieve an energy rating of at least Band C by 2035.

The manifesto also includes plans for expanded community energy schemes, and the restoration of a zero-carbon standard for new homes which would be extended to non-domestic buildings by 2022.

Protecting nature

The Lib Dems acknowledge that “the countryside, wildlife and urban green spaces are critical to health, wellbeing and a sense of community”. The Party aims to set up a £2bn flood prevention fund, suspend the use of bee-harming neonicotinoids, and plant a tree for every UK citizen over the next ten years. A Nature Act would provide the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) with statutory powers to set legally-binding targets for biodiversity, clean air and water.

The Liberal Democrats are the second of the major parties to publish its manifesto ahead of the general election, after Labour released its 2017 manifesto on Monday.

Stay tuned to edie for full coverage off the other party manifestos along with our own, exclusive green policy coverage in the build up to the election on 8 June. 

George Ogleby

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