Citizens’ assemblies will decide what action should be taken on the climate crisis, the Treasury’s ability to stymie green measures will be neutralised and the Green Investment Bank will be revived under proposals set to be key planks of the Liberal Democrats’ general election bid. Along with sweeping reform of Whitehall, including bringing back a department of climate change, local government would be given new powers to cut emissions, there would be a moratorium on airport expansion and an end to fracking, and the UK would achieve net-zero carbon status by 2045 – five years sooner than the current government goal. “Moving to net-zero is a complete game-changer,” Wera Hobhouse, the Lib Dem spokesperson for the environment and climate change, told the Guardian. “The whole of government and society need to understand the need to get to net-zero – everything we do needs to be seen in terms of that target.” Under the proposals to be presented to the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth this weekend, a new minister, who will attend cabinet, would be appointed chief secretary to the Treasury and oversee policy across departments to ensure it meets the zero-carbon pledge. “The biggest hurdle [to climate policies] was always the Treasury,” said Hobhouse. Soon after Theresa May unveiled her zero-carbon target this summer, her chancellor, Philip Hammond, claimed it would cost too much. “Having a chief secretary to keep reminding the chancellor of the need to get to net-zero is key,” said Hobhouse. To gain public support for urgent action on emissions, the Lib Dems would convene citizens’ assemblies across the country to debate new measures. These would include ways to ensure a massive expansion of electric vehicles and better public transport, and how to encourage new technology such as heating homes with hydrogen instead of gas. Councils would also be given greater powers over planning, for instance to promote electric vehicles, cycling and walking.
Guardian 14th Sept 2019 read more »