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Sustainability-minded Lib Dems call for party to adopt ‘green backbone’



A group of Liberal Democrat MPs and activists have published proposals for policies their party must campaign on if it is to appeal to green-minded voters at next year’s general election.

Formally launched at an event in Westminster on Tuesday, the Green Manifesto suggests that policies geared towards encouraging ‘green growth’ should be at the heart of the party’s approach.

“Because the Green Manifesto addresses the key economic and social challenges the country will face in the next parliament, we believe it offers a potential structure for the entire election manifesto itself”, the document states.

“Not merely the ‘green thread’ of previous programmes, but a ‘green backbone’ around which the party’s appeal at the next election can and should be constructed.”

Putting forward 150 proposals, the manifesto argues that a sustainability-focused approach would bring three major benefits.

It says a low-carbon, efficient and forward thinking economy would be better for all, while targets for clean air and a focus on flood defences and green spaces would provide better places to live for all. 

It also calls for a ‘war on waste’, in which investors would be encouraged to support energy efficiency initiatives, in order to lower costs for businesses, consumers and homeowners.

Some of the policy positions put forward to achieve this include a pledge to deliver 1.5m new “near-zero energy cost” homes, a relaxation of the borrowing rules enforced upon the government’s Green Investment Bank and an opposition to airport expansion in the south-east.

The manifesto’s authors also suggest that the party pledge to meet the levels of flood defence spending recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, and a commit to meeting 100% of the UK’s energy demand with sustainable energy by 2050. 

“The Green Manifesto shows us how we need to build a green economy, because if the economy is not green it will be neither competitive nor successful”, said Tim Farron, Lib Dem party president and the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

“I wholeheartedly support its case that the green approach must lie at the core of the Liberal Democrat appeal at the 2015 election”, he added.

The Lib Dems already claim to be “the only major party that puts tackling climate change at [its] heart,” saying that the Conservatives and Labour “write off tackling climate change as being too expensive in hard times.” 

The release of the Green Manifesto is perhaps the most significant move of any of the three main political parties to appeal to environmentally conscious voters ahead of the 2015 election so far.

The Conservatives in particular have been criticised for the number of alleged climate sceptics in office.

However, in February an alliance of ‘modern Tories’ unveiled a report calling on the government to implement low-carbon policies that would bring economic benefit.

A group of leading international conservative politicians including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Bloomberg also recently contributed to a report that called for a “reinvigoration” of the centre-right environmental agenda. 

Senior figures from both the Conservatives and Labour have also recently spoken out about the threat posed by climate change.

Further reading:

David Cameron: ‘climate change one of the most serious threats this world faces’

Ed Miliband: Climate change is a ‘national security issue’

Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg and senior conservatives rally for the environment

‘Greenest government ever’ has failed the environment, NGOs say

Conservatism and conservation: why Tories are born to be green