Four broken climate promises by the Conservatives
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
With COP just weeks away, the Prime Minister has been urging countries to announce meaningful cuts to emissions.
But his speech hides something entirely different. His Government are failing to make progress on cutting emissions and are instead going backwards.
1. Tree planting humiliation
In the 2019 election the Conservatives promised to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2024. But rather than increasing they're actually going backwards.
Last year just 2,200 hectares were planted, compared to a still embarrassingly small 2,340 the year before.
And guess what? This year is on course to be a three-year low. Between April and June just 469 hectares were planted. If projected for the whole year, that would mean 1,876 hectares will be planted.
Liberal Democrats are calling for a £150 billion Green Recovery Plan, including planting at least 60 million trees a year to cut emissions and restore woodlands.
2. Green homes failure
Last Autumn, the Government launched the Green Homes Grant - aiming to upgrade 600,000 homes with insulation and low-carbon heating.
In just six months, the scheme was closed after being mismanaged by the Government and the Virginia-based firm they outsourced it to.
In that time only 31,900 homes were upgraded - a complete failure. Meanwhile, a similar scheme available to local councils has seen just an extra 3,000 homes benefit from upgrades.
Liberal Democrats are calling for a £150 billion Green Recovery Plan, including an emergency ten-year programme to reduce energy consumption from all buildings. This will cut emissions and energy bills and end fuel poverty.
3. Toxic air delays
In 2017 the Government directed 61 councils to develop plans as quickly as possible to cut levels of toxic air pollution.
But since then, only three clean air zones have been put in place. London, Birmingham and Liberal Democrat-run Bath and North East Somerset. Portsmouth, also run by Lib Dems, is launching their own this year.
The Government has in fact allowed local authorities to delay their plans to clean up our toxic air. That's despite air pollution being linked to 40,000 early deaths each year.
Liberal Democrats are calling for a £150 billion Green Recovery Plan, including passing a Clean Air Act, to enshrine your legal right to unpolluted air wherever you live.
4. Permitting a new coal mine
The Conservatives are failing to show climate leadership. They're dithering over whether to stop a new coal mine being considered in West Cumbria.
Opening this coal mine would mean that we will struggle to cut our emissions, while exporting the coal will drive down the price of coal in steel making, making it more likely that carbon emissions will rise.
After 2035, if we are to reach net-zero, the use of coal in steel making must stop.
Yet the Conservatives have failed to put a stop to it. They have finally called in the planning application, but we likely won't have a decision for months.
Liberal Democrats are calling for a £150 billion Green Recovery Plan, including the cancelling of this coal mine and increasing investment in green steel and supporting industry to find net-zero alternatives.
The Conservatives simply cannot be trusted to tackle the climate emergency. In the year the UK is hosting the UN climate conference, they should be leading by example.
We need a plan that works, now.