Lib Dems reiterate green ambition with election manifesto
"The Five Green Laws are nailed to the front page of our manifesto," proclaimed Energy Secretary Ed Davey as he announced further details of the green policies that the Liberal Democrat Party would implement if elected in May.
Davey and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg confirmed details of two green policies this week: to double the UK's production of renewable energy by 2020 through a new Zero Carbon Bill and to extend the upcoming plastic bag charge to incorporate all single-use bags.
Both policies fall within the party's 'Five Green Laws' which it plans to introduce in the next Parliament.
The Zero Carbon Britain Bill, which the Lib Dems would introduce after the general election, would "end UK's adverse impact on climate change", according to the party.
Measures under the Zero Carbon Britain Bill:
- A new legally-binding target for Zero Carbon Britain by 2050.
- A new legally-binding decarbonisation target for the power sector by 2030 to support investment in all forms of low carbon electricity.
- Establishing an Office for Accelerated Low Carbon Innovation to fast-track new green tech including tidal power, renewable heat, ultra-low emission vehicles, energy storage and CCS.
- Applying Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) to existing coal plants from 2025 to end use of unabated coal generation.
- Full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank, to further boost investment in low carbon technology.
'Whole new level'
Davey said: "Our Zero Carbon Bill will make a huge contribution to creating a stronger economy and a fairer society. A stronger economy means a quarter of a million new green jobs over the next five years, and establishing Britain as a world leader in renewable technology.
"Lib Dems in government have already more than doubled the amount of renewable electricity in the UK and on Thursday I announced a host of green energy projects had won contracts from Government which together could power the equivalent of all households in Wales. Our plans for the future take this to a whole new level."
Deputy Prime Minister Clegg added: "It's no exaggeration to say our future, and that of our children, depends upon us tackling climate change head on. The more we delay, the more we are at threat from this ticking time bomb.
"This is why if in government again we will set about making Britain zero carbon, securing more home-grown renewable energy whilst also reducing our reliance on regimes who use western energy needs as a blunt foreign policy tool."
Paper bag charge
Meanwhile, a second proposed bill also announced this week would remove all exemptions from the incoming carrier bag charge to England. This revision could potentially benefit small and medium-sized businesses by up to £300m over the next ten years.
The Lib Dems hope that by removing the exemptions - imposed by the Conservatives - an extra 3.5 billion single-use carrier bags and 328 million paper bags will be taken out of circulation each year.
The charge of 5p per bag is due to take effect in October and is expected to raise £730m for good causes and create £60m savings a year in litter clean-up costs.
Clegg added: "Whilst some people have gone suspiciously quiet on the need to tackle climate change, the Lib Dems have never pulled our punches to safeguard the environment. The facts are simple; single use bags blight our towns and countryside.
"The countdown to charging has begun, and by the time it arrives this autumn, reusable bags should increasingly be commonplace. As we get used to it, the hundreds of millions raised from the charge will go to charities.
"But we need to do much more. We need to go further and faster."