Jenny Wilkinson

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield

Tackle the Climate Emergency

Our planet is on the brink of being irreparably damaged, and we are responsible for that damage. The climate emergency is real and our planet is heating to unsustainable levels. We are witnessing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity, the air we breathe is toxic, and our oceans are full of plastics. Young people have taken to the streets because they’re so worried that the Conservatives are failing to act. There is no planet B. We are facing a climate catastrophe which will create huge global inequalities. We have a moral duty to act.

We are the only party with a radical, credible and detailed plan to tackle the climate emergency as soon as possible, to transform our government to place the environment at its heart and to reverse the damage we’re doing to our planet.

The UK led the world by passing the Climate Change Act in 2008. The UK must become a global leader again. Parliament has changed the law to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but the Tories have put forward no plan for how to achieve it. Liberal Democrats have a plan; we will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the very latest. We will cut emissions by 75% by 2030 and 93% by 2040. But we need to act now, we cannot wait around until 2045. We must do as much as we can immediately.

To tackle the climate emergency The Liberal Democrats would:

  • Reorganise government to make it ready to end the climate emergency, restoring the Department for Climate Change, setting up a new Green Investment Bank and creating a new Chief Secretary of Sustainability in the Treasury to co-ordinate funds for cutting emissions. All Government departments would have a duty to cut emissions in their areas of responsibility.
  • Set up a Citizen’s Climate Assembly, improving public engagement with the climate emergency and making recommendations to government.
  • Immediately ban fracking and instead focus on building renewable energy. We will restore subsidies for solar power, increase construction of off-shore wind and end the ban on new onshore wind turbines – all while investing in new technologies, such as new renewables, as well as carbon capture and storage.
  • Restore the zero-carbon homes standard, ensuring that new buildings (commercial or residential) are built as efficiently as possible. We will insulate every home by 2030 through an emergency ten-year programme – reducing carbon emissions as well as cutting bills and reducing fuel poverty. We would also adopt a Zero-Carbon Heat strategy, exploring alternatives on how we will heat our homes – considering heat pumps and hydrogen.
  • Bring forward the date for the new sales ban for petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030 and cut VAT on new electric vehicles from 20% to 5% – cutting air pollution as well as emissions. Invest in more electric vehicle infrastructure including charging points.
  • Convert the entire rail network to ultra-low emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035.
  • Ensure there is no net increase in runways and reform airline taxation for international flights to target the most frequent flyers. We would cancel the third runway at Heathrow airport.
  • Reform agriculture subsidies to support farmers in cutting their greenhouse gas emissions while still producing food. Including measures to restore soil health, planting trees and restoring natural carbon sinks.
  • Increase UK forest cover by planting an additional 60 million trees a year to act as nature carbon sinks, while restoring peatlands and other natural carbon sinks.
  • Regulate financial services to encourage green investments, including requiring all companies registered in the UK or listed on UK stock exchanges to disclose their level of climate risk and to set new targets in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
  • Work in the EU to achieve a net-zero EU, with a binding target of 2050 for net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the 28 member states.