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CAFOD: How will you tackle poverty and climate change?

May 3, 2015 11:05 AM

Like you I am incredibly grateful for the sterling work CAFOD do to help the most vulnerable abroad. I am pleased that CAFOD has worked with the Government to deliver some of our aid programmes abroad. 2015 offers us a significant opportunity to agree new international goals to tackle climate change and poverty. I'm determined we grab this opportunity to protect our environment and ensure no one is left behind.

I believe we have a duty to help the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they live in the world. I am proud that the Liberal Democrats have such a strong record of helping those in need. It is only thanks to the Liberal Democrats in Government that the UK became the first G8 country to meet the 40 year old promise to spend 0.7% of our national income on international aid.

It was my Liberal Democrat colleague, Michael Moore, who put forward the successful bill to enshrine in law our promise on development aid. UK aid prevents 3 million people from falling into poverty each year; has vaccinated 55 million children against preventable diseases and stopped 250,000 new-born babies dying needlessly. It has helped more people access anti-AIDS drugs and sent over 10 million children to school last year. Unlike some other parties, I am determined to ensure that we don't go back on this commitment because doing so would cost lives.

Tackling climate change and environmental degradation, and eradicating poverty are two sides of the same coin. The poorest are hit first and hardest by climate change. Our support will help the most vulnerable to adapt and also protect our planet.

Liberal Democrats are also committed to protecting the environment and fighting climate change. Since 2010 UK carbon emissions have fallen and the amount of energy coming from renewable energy has more than doubled. Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey was instrumental in securing an ambitious EU-wide climate change deal last year. This will help us push for a universal commitment to tackle climate change.

2015 is a significant year for international development and tackling climate change. In September the UN will agree a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals and in December UN members will agree a legally binding climate change agreement. I was disappointed to see Conservative MEPS voting against the EU supporting the SDGs. However I am determined we seize this opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and our planet.

I want the SDGs to put poverty eradication and sustainable development at their core. Liberal Democrats want to ensure that environmental sustainability and tackling climate change are fully integrated into all the relevant SDGs. We also want them to include a specific goal around gender equality, which should contain specific targets around early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. I am proud these are both areas Liberal Democrat Ministers have been working hard to address internationally and in the UK.

​General position on Climate Change
Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against climate change for longer than any other political party. It's in our DNA. Despite Conservative attempts to block our green policies, we have ensured this Government has been the greenest ever. Energy use is falling, helping to keep bills down. Investment in renewables has more than doubled, and as a nation we're using twice as much renewable electricity. Competition in the energy market has never been greater, with new independent suppliers offering cheaper prices and better service. Lib Dems have led the way internationally too. Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey spearheaded the UK push to persuade the EU to set an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

In the next Parliament we will prioritise saving energy, with council tax discounts for insulating your home and energy efficiency help for low income families with high fuel costs. We will carry on greening our electricity, getting rid of coal generation by 2025 and setting an ambitious power sector "decarbonisation" target. We will grow the green economy of the future with smart investment. And we will do this while keeping energy bills down. And on these plans Ed Davey said:-

"The Lib Dems are the only party to have nailed their green credentials to the mast, and set out how this radical agenda will be delivered in a way that is both credible and affordable."

And having campaigned with Ed a few years ago and seen him discuss energy policy on one doorstep for over half hour on a freeze cold February evening I know it is a subject he is very passionate about. In the next parliament there are a number of environmental policies that the Liberal Democrats plan to introduce that I am keen to support these are:-

1. A Green Homes Bill - to require every home to be properly insulated by 2035, keeping bills down, cutting carbon, and keeping people cool in summer and warm in winter. Everyone who significantly upgrade the energy efficiency of their home will get at least £100 off their Council Tax for 10 years; we will make interest free loans available to fund insulation; and create a new "feed out tariff" to reward people who install solid wall insulation. Rented homes will have to be fully insulated (to Band C) by 2027. And everyone who is "fuel poor" will be eligible to have their home upgraded by this date. Other plans under the bill would include:-

  • Reforming the Green Deal 'pay as you save' scheme into a new 'Green Homes Loan Scheme' which would extend the current scheme to include renewable heat and electricity
  • A new 'Feed out Tariff' for investment in Solid Wall Insulation, the most expensive and disruptive type of energy efficiency measure

2. A Zero Carbon Britain Bill - to green our electricity. This will set an ambitious 2030 target to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector to between 50-100g CO2 per kwh, and getting rid of coal power generation by 2025. Continuing the shift to cleaner energy, supported by the Green Investment Bank, will support 250,000 low carbon jobs by 2020. The aim of the bill is to Britain's adverse impact on climate change for good by 2050 by making Britain a zero carbon country. And to help keep down bills the energy market competition will be increased, by enabling you to switch supplier to save money in just 24 hours, and we will take on the big six, setting a target for 30% of the energy market to be supplied by independent companies instead​. The Zero Carbon Bill will also include:

  • 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

3. A Zero Waste Bill - Treble fines and claw back £500 million for the taxpayer by clamping down on organisations which fly-tip to deliberately evade tax and review the tax structure across landfill, incineration and collection. Other plans under the bill would include:-

  • A "Responsibility Deal" between government and business to ensure packaging for consumer products are designed for recycling rather than designed for dumping
  • Commission a Stern type review to undertake a UK-wide review on how Britain's waste can be used as a resource to generate revenue for the economy and the possibility of legally binding targets on waste

4. A Green Transport Bill - Transport has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions. In the UK, transport is responsible for around 25% of our carbon emissions and is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions. We will bring forward a comprehensive package of transport policies to continue to build a people-centred, sustainable, safe travel system that helps the economy grow. The Green Transport Bill would also include:-

  • Fast track support for the growing electric vehicle market, starting with implementing a full network of charging points for electric cars, and a target of 2040
  • Make progress towards implementing the recommendations of the 'Get Britain Cycling' report
  • We will update planning law to ensure new infrastructure developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport
  • Oppose any increase to the national speed limit
  • We will undertake a review of road transport taxation
  • Where 20mph isn't achieving the saving of children's lives, give local authorities the power to reduce the speed limit outside schools to 10mph

5. A Nature Bill - Establish the Natural Capital Committee on a statutory footing to provide advice to Government to ensure that nature is at the heart of government decision-making and that government departments are held to account for achieving progress against commitments to improving the natural environment. The Nature Bill would also include:-

  • Bring forward a package to protect bees and pollinators and help them recover
  • Design and adopt a National Food Strategy and encourage local councils to adopt a food plan in order to foster the growth of local food economies, from field to fork

I hope this answers your question.