Lib Dem manifesto puts environment first
Plans to protect and improve the environment while also supporting our pockets, families and communities have been unveiled in the Liberal Democrats' mini environment manifesto this week.At the manifesto's launch, Shadow Environment Secretary Norman Baker told supporters that he believed a greener Britain would not only create a better environment, but a better life for all.
"There should be a green backbone running right through the government," he said. "We need to start with firm action to tackle climate change, cut traffic congestion and giver proper support to alternative fuel sources."
In order to tackle climate change issues, the manifesto states that the UK must take the lead on international negotiations, creating tough new targets on greenhouse gas emissions.
A holistic solution is needed, according to the party, with inclusion of the USA and Australia in an emissions reduction agreement taking priority, along with bringing developing countries on board on the principle of contraction and convergence.
The Treasury would also become greener, and the development of an Economic Incentive Programme that offered real incentives for environmental improvements would shift the environmental burden onto the polluter.
For instance, excise duty would be lowered for less polluting cars, and to cut back emissions in the aviation industry, one of the world's biggest carbon polluters, air passenger duty would be replaced with a charge on each aircraft.
"We want to cut emissions from aviation by rejecting Labour's flawed plans for airport expansion; achieve real reductions in energy use by making a much stronger case for the money everyone can save, and push for strong new agreements on climate change," Mr Baker explained.
Recent question marks hanging over the nuclear power issue and whether more nuclear power plants should be built to produce cleaner energy (see related story) were also rejected by the manifesto, as the Liberal Democrats committed themselves to meeting future demands through a combination of energy conservation measures and an array of renewable sources (20% by 2020) instead.
Shadow Transport Secretary John Thurso also stressed that improving the UK's ailing public transport system would be a key priority for the party, replacing fuel and vehicle excise duties with road user charging based on the type of vehicle you were driving, as well as how often and where it was being used.
"Our public transport system is suffering from years of under-investment and over-regulation, and British passengers are getting a raw deal - they suffer amongst the worst services in Europe and yet pay some of the highest fares," Mr Thurso commented.
"Labour understands the problems but has done nothing to tackle them. The tarmac Tories don't even want to understand them and would just concrete over our green spaces with more and more roads."
"Things can't go on like this. Transport needs a big vision for the future."
By Jane Kettle