The climate emergency threatens millions of people around the world. We urgently need to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. If we fail, the devastating impacts of climate change will become irreversible says Wera Hobhouse MP

2 Dec 2023

Wera Hobhouse speech to Green LibDems Conference

at The Liberal Club London. 29th October 2023

The climate emergency threatens millions of people around the world. We urgently need to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. If we fail, the devastating impacts of climate change will become irreversible.

The independent Climate Change Committee is clear that the government's current strategy will not deliver net zero. This Government has no credible plans to rapidly reduce emissions.

Since the last election, the Conservatives have failed to reduce the UK's dependence on oil and gas, they have failed to invest in renewables, and they have failed to tackle the climate emergency.

The Government's inability to deliver is their trademark.

Fossil fuels will not lower energy bills or ensure our energy security. Research from Uplift confirms that most of the oil produced at Rosebank will be shipped abroad and sold on the global market. We must move away from the fuels of the past and become world leaders in the industries of the future.

We cannot afford for this government to water down any more of their own targets. Their constant flip flops are seriously undermining confidence. We Liberal Democrats have set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045. This will be hard, but with political will it is not beyond reach.

We will accelerate renewable deployment by providing more funding, and we will remove the Conservatives' restrictions on solar and wind. This should help us to decarbonise the power sector completely and reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.

The UK needs diverse sources of supply if we are to truly secure our energy. We Liberal Democrats would therefore remove the barriers to community energy and support councils to develop local electricity generation.

We need more than just investment to reach net zero. Top-down policy will only get us so far.

We must also win the hearts and minds of local communities to make the green transition as smooth as possible.

This can be done by working closely with local authorities. After all, they know their communities best. As it stands, national government and local authorities do not have an integrated way to discuss, support and facilitate local net zero delivery. Siloed thinking within and between governments will prevent us from meeting our targets.

We Liberal Democrats propose a net zero delivery authority.

This would co-ordinate national and local strategies and inform central Government about how projects can be delivered on the ground. It would also allow power and resources to be devolved to local authorities.

We must also allow the public to make greener choices. The incentives they are currently offered are simply not good enough. Take the Smart Export Guarantee. This should encourage households to invest in solar panels by allowing them to sell the excess electricity they produce back to the grid. However, it currently takes decades for households to break even.

We would improve this incentive, so households are more likely to invest in renewables and get involved in the green transition.

Everyone deserves a warm and comfortable home. We Liberal Democrats would undertake an emergency programme to insulate all of Britain's homes by 2030. As part of this, we would provide free energy saving improvements for low-income homes and generous tax incentives for other households.

This would include a plan for all homeowners, including landlords, to offset their spending on energy-saving improvements against their income tax.

Our best defence against climate change is nature. We Liberal Democrats want to protect nature and restore our natural environment.

Our proposals aim to stop the decline of nature by 2030, and 'double nature' in England by 2050. As part of this, we would plant at least 60 million trees a year.

Ultimately, net zero will not be easy. What we need is a government with the political courage to treat climate change with the urgency it demands. What we have is a government that consistently fails to deliver.

Time is running out to limit global temperature rises.

The planet needs bold governments with bold plans on climate change, and I believe this is what we Liberal Democrats have developed.

Wera Hobhouse MP 
 Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change).

Wera Hobhouse