Along with the Lib Dems as a whole, I am clear about the urgent need to tackle the climate emergency now. The current government policy is for Britain to be carbon neutral by 2050. There are two problems with that. The first is that 2050 is a long way away. The second, and more important still, is that the Conservatives have no meaningful plan for how that will be achieved.
We need immediate action to become carbon neutral as swiftly as possible. Lib Dem policy is to be completely carbon neutral by 2045 at the latest, and ideally sooner. That plan is based on a practical understanding of the technology that is available now, and also what is likely to be developed in the next 20 years. We are committed to moving to 80% of power being generated from renewable sources by 2030. That is achievable. Alongside that, we need to invest in technology to store power so that people can use it when needed, and not just when the wind is blowing!
There are other things that can be done. All new-build properties need to be carbon neutral, and we need to insulate existing buildings, including homes and businesses to make them as efficient as possible. We are looking at alternative technology for heating homes to enable people to stay warm more cheaply whilst looking after the environment. We want all new cars sold in the UK to be electric by 2030.
As well as the climate emergency and tackling air pollution, we need to address the crisis of decline in biodiversity. 1 in 7 species in the UK are under threat of extinction. The Lib Dems will plant 60 million trees a year, with a focus on native woodland. We also need to protect other ecosystems, with a focus on “rewilding” and including peatlands, heathlands, saltmarshes and wetlands.
It saddens me that the local council is not doing more to promote the green agenda. The current plan is focused on litter-picking, more greenery and plants, and painting benches. Of course we all want to live in an attractive town and these steps will certainly make it look nicer. However, there is so much more that needs to be done to regenerate the town centre in a sustainable way. As a minimum, I want to see installation of charge points for electric vehicles, clean air zones around our schools and an exploration of opportunities for community energy schemes. And, of course, we must ensure that our precious park, including areas of special scientific interest, is protected.