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GE2019: Lib Dems manifesto pledges raft of green policies in pursuit of 2045 net zero

Image: Liberal Democrats

Image: Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats party has unleashed its manifesto, targeting a 2045 net zero target and the removal of restrictions for wind and solar among a host of green policies.

The key focus of the manifesto was a commitment to investing in renewable power to ensure “at least” 80% of the UK’s electricity is generated by renewables by 2030, as well as setting a new legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2045.

Both of these were first outlined in a motion passed at the Liberal Democrats party conference in September and now form part of its official manifesto.

Renewable energy’s £12 billion investment

Alongside timing commitments for decarbonisation, a range of renewable power policies have been brought forward from the motion into the manifesto.

Among these are plans to develop smart grids, energy storage and to build more interconnectors to guarantee security of supply.

Community and decentralised energy would be expanded, with support for councils to develop local electricity generation and a requirement for all new homes to be fitted with solar panels.

Domestic solar is on the agenda for several of the parties, with the Green Party pledging to provide 10 million homes with solar and the Labour party proposing to install solar PV at 1.75 million homes as part of its Warm Homes for All initiative.

Solar would also see a boost under the Liberal Democrats leadership with the removal of “the Conservatives’ restrictions” on solar and wind, as well as the provision of greater funding for renewables, the manifesto states.

Investment and innovation in cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, demand response and hydrogen will also be supported.

An additional £12 billion will be provided over five years to support the Liberal Democrats’ ambitions for renewable energy, as well as ensuring that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, Ofgem and the Crown Estate work together to deliver net zero.

The Liberal Democrats would also implement the UK’s G7 pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, as well as providing “Just Transition” funding for areas and communities negatively affected by the net zero transition.

The party also criticised Labour’s plans to renationalise the networks, as well as other industries such as water and the railways, which the Liberal Democrats said would be “enormously disruptive and ruinously costly” and “pointless”.

Transforming transport

A phase-out date for petrol and diesel cars and small vans would be brought forward to 2030 under a Liberal Democrats government, from its current date of 2040.

The rate of charge points installations would be ramped up, including on-street chargers and ultra-fast chargers at service stations.

Vehicle taxation would also be reformed, which would include cutting VAT on EVs to 5%.

Support would also be introduced for innovation in zero-emission technologies, for example batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, supplementing government funding with a new Clean Air Fund to be sourced from industry.

Ultra-low Emission Zones (ULEZ) would be extended to ten additional towns and cities in England, and all new buses and private hire vehicles licenced to operate in urban areas would be required to be ultra-low or zero emission by 2025. This would be enabled by £2 billion in government funding. The first ULEZ was introduced in London in April.

Other policies outlined for transport include passing a Clean Air Act, shift more freight from road to rail, a move which would see more lines leading from major ports electrified as an “urgent priority”, and reforming the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most.

The rail network would be converted to ultra-low-emission technology, which the manifesto describes as electric or hydrogen, by 2035.

Efforts will also be made to reduce overall car use, with £4.5 billion to go towards restoring and adding new bus routes over five years, a nationwide strategy promoting walking and cycling and light rail schemes for trams where appropriate.

Measures within government’s walls

A Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources would be established under a Liberal Democrats leadership. This bears similarities – at least in name – to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), before it was absorbed into the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2016.

A cabinet-level chief secretary for sustainability in the Treasury would be appointed for the purpose of coordinating government-wide action to make the economy sustainable, resource-efficient and zero-carbon. This would require every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets.

A statutory duty on all local authorities to produce a Zero Carbon Strategy would be created, including plans for local energy, transport and land use. Powers would be devolved and funding provided to enable every council to implement this.

Government expenditure on climate and environmental objectives would be increased, reaching at least 5% of the total within five years.

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is the second to be released this week, with The Green Party publishing its manifesto on Tuesday. Headlines from its manifesto include fitting solar on 10 million homes by 2030, £10.4 billion for grid upgrades and £2.5 billion for EVs and charging infrastructure.

Labour’s manifesto was released today, and the Conservative’s later this week. Both parties have released individual policies relating to decarbonisation, including £500 million for EV charging infrastructure from the Conservatives and Labour’s pledge for 2,000 solar hubs on community buildings.

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