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Archive for the ‘Environmental Economics’ Category

green party

This is a rather late and a shorter version. But the Green Party made it easy to pick out their environmental pledges. They are the only party with a separate environment manifesto – perhaps not surprisingly. It can be seen here.

Green Party’s key environmental policies are on this webpage, easy to see:

  • An Environmental Protection Act to safeguard and restore our environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection.
  • A public works programme of insulation to make every home warm and investing in flood defences and natural flood management to make every community safer.
  • Equality of access to nature and green spaces, to enhance leisure, health and wellbeing.
  • Active ongoing cooperation with businesses and other countries to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees and aiming for 1.5 degrees.
  • Replacing fracking, coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.
  • Introduce a one-off fine on car manufacturers who cheated the emissions testing regime and create a new Clean Air Act, expanding and funding a mandatory clean air zone network.
  • Strong protection for the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • A wider, more effective network of marine protected areas around our coasts, including fully protected no take zones.
  • Tough action to reduce plastic and other waste, including the introduction of Deposit Return Schemes, with a zero waste target.

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libdem logo

LibDem Manifesto – Environmental Coverage

LibDems have the longest section on the environment. You can click on the title above to go to the page where you can see the Manifesto. There are no costings that accompany this manifesto. The summary below shows quotations from the manifesto (in italics with page numbers reported) and some commentary.  The titles are mostly as they appear in the manifesto, unless statements are grouped.

Brexit and Environment

“Maintaining environmental standards: The European Union has created the highest environmental standards in the world. We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change. Liberal Democrats will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law, including the closest possible co-operation on climate and energy policy.” P.11

 Investment

We will ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission takes fully into account the environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions.” P.37

Traditional indicators of economic activity such as GDP are poor guides to genuine prosperity and wellbeing. We will therefore introduce a National Wellbeing Strategy covering all aspects of government policy, including health, housing and the environment.” P.39

Devolved Administrations

  • “Provide assistance to areas heavily dependent on fossil fuel industries, such as the north-east of Scotland, to diversify away from these industries.
  • Give the immediate go-ahead to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.” P.44

Keeping Our Country Green

This is the main environment chapter of the manifesto. The priorities are:

  • “Ensuring that four million properties receive insulation retrofits by 2022, prioritising fuel-poor households.
  • Preventing 40,000 deaths a year with our Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution.
  • Ensuring British farming remains competitive and doesn’t lose out – refocusing support towards producing healthy food and public benefits.” 47

This Section is too long to reproduce here (pages 47 – 54). But as a summary:

Five new green laws are proposed: a Green Transport Act, a Zero-Carbon Britain Act, a Nature Act, a Green Buildings Act, and a Zero-Waste Act to “incorporate existing EU environmental protections, maintain product standards such as for energy efficiency, and establish a framework for continual improvement”. P.47

The Liberal Democrats pledge to pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set new legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050.

Energy

The manifesto includes the aim to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restore government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations and build more interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables.

Saving energy will be a top infrastructure priority and a new Green Buildings Act will be passed to set new energy efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035. The comment I made about overheating when reviewing the Labour manifesto about insulating houses applies here too.

Close to our work the chapter also mentions the Natural Capital Committee (the only manifesto to do so, so far, though of course outcomes are more important than processes). The Liberal Democrats will pass a Nature Act to “put the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) on a statutory footing, set legally binding natural capital targets, including on biodiversity, clean air and water, and empower the NCC to recommend actions to meet these targets”. P.50

International Development

“Provide greater resources for international environmental co-operation, particularly on climate change and on actions to tackle illegal and unsustainable trade in timber, wildlife, ivory and fish.” P.85

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labour

Labour Manifesto – environmental coverage

‘Environment’ appears as a sub-title in the ‘Leading Richer Lives’ section. While I like the acknowledgement of the contribution of the environment to ‘richer’ lives, I was initially concerned that they allocated only one page to the topic out of 123. But reading through the whole text reveals environmental issues have been woven into almost all the Chapters.

You can click on the title above to go to the page where you can see both the Manifesto. The costings that accompany this manifesto can also be found in the same link. The summary below shows quotations from the manifesto (in italics with page numbers reported) and some commentary.  The titles are mostly as they appear in the manifesto, unless statements are grouped.

Industrial Strategy

National and local government spends £200 billion a year in the private-sector procurement. Labour will put that spending power to good use to upgrade our economy, create good local jobs and reduce inequality. We will require firms supplying national or local government to meet the high standards we should expect of all businesses: paying their taxes, recognising trade unions, respecting workers’ rights and equal opportunities, protecting the environment, providing training, and paying suppliers on time.” P. 14

Environmental Policy and Brexit

“We will drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.

Throughout the Brexit process, we will make sure that all EU-derived laws that are of benefit 􀈂 including workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections – are fully protected without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses.” p.25

A Labour approach to Brexit will ensure there can be no rolling back of key rights and protections and that the UK does not lag behind Europe in workplace protections and environmental standards in future.” p.26

Energy

We will transform our energy systems, investing in new, state-of-the-art low-carbon gas and renewable electricity production” p.12

“…ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030” p.14

“…to ensure we meet our climate change targets and transition to a low-carbon economy” p.20

For renters, Labour will improve on existing Landlord Energy Efficiency regulations and re-establish the Landlord Energy Saving Allowance to encourage the uptake of efficiency measures.” p.21

Labour will ban fracking because it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee of Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline.” p.21

Climate Change – mitigation and adaptation

“Labour will insulate four million homes as an infrastructure priority to help those who suffer cold homes each winter.” p.20. This insulation design and materials should also take account of homes overheating due to increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather (like heat waves) due to climate change (see Climate Change Risk Assessment).

We will insulate more homes to help people manage the cost of energy bills, to reduce preventable winter deaths, and to meet our climate change targets.” P.60

We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce emissions while mitigating the impacts of climate change on developing countries.” P.118

Transport

We will retrofit thousands of diesel busses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards.” P.91

We welcome the work done by the Airports Commission, and we will guarantee that any airport expansion adheres to our tests that require noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, the UK’s climate change obligations met and growth across the country supported.” P. 92

 Water

Replace our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies.” p.19. Commenting on the merits of this, or supporting this proposal (or not) is not my intention, neither am I able to do this. Serious work needs to be undertaken on defining dysfunctional, assessing the feasibility of this proposal and drawing regional boundaries. If the regions were defined according to catchment (or several catchments) boundaries, then they would be in line with the ‘catchment management / partnership’ approach that has been gaining traction.

Land Use

We will prioritise brownfield sites and protect the green belt.” p.60

Environment Sub-Section – key actions (p 93-94)

Investing in our environment is investing in our future. We will defend and extend existing environmental protections. We will champion sustainable farming, food and fishing by investing in and promoting skills, technology, market access and innovation.

  • prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries, fund robust flood resilience, invest in rural and coastal communities, and guarantee the protection and advancement of environmental quality standards.
  • Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Conservative legacy of illegal air quality.
  • We will safeguard habitats and species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding our island.
  • We will set guiding targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes, working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce waste.
  • We will protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so.
  • We will work with farmers and foresters to plant a million trees of native species to promote biodiversity and better flood management.
  • Labour will keep them in public hands.
  • Our stewardship of the environment needs to be founded on sound principles and based on scientific assessments. We will establish a science innovation fund, working with farmers and fisheries that will include support for our small scale fishing fleet.

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GE 2017

Call me a silly cow but I’m excited about this election because I don’t think it’s only about Brexit!

I think it’s about making a decision on what role we want for the public sector and policy in all areas of government. It’s about the vision for the kind of country we want to live in. A good Brexit deal will then be one which helps us the most in making that vision reality.

It is also for this reason that I’ve read the main parties’ manifestos and will be writing a series on their coverage of environmental issues and policies.

I did this back in 2005. It was the first election I could vote in, in these pastures.

In 2010, I only searched for some key words through the texts.

This year….did I say I am excited about this election?!

So, every day this week you will get a review of the environmental pledges of a political party.  I’ll add the links here as they come online.

Conservative Party manifesto 2017 – environment overview

Labour Party manifesto 2017 – environment overview

Liberal Democrat manifesto 2017 – environment overview

UKIP manifesto 2017 – environment overview

Green Party manifesto 2017 – environment overview

For a final word from me on the manifestos click here

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For your consideration:

The recently started Biodiversity Offsets Blog aims to provide an interdisciplinary platform for the information and exchange on Biodiversity Offsets and the Mitigation Hierarchy.

The goal is to mainstream and facilitate the discussion on Biodiversity Offsets. The focus lies on biodiversity offsets as such (not market based instruments or other more general topics). The formerly widespread information shall be brought together to make it easily accessible for a maximum of people and thereby to unite the societal debate with academic findings and practical insights. This includes joining different perspectives (biodiversity offsets are not restricted to the interest of business).
The Biodiversity Offsets Blog combines general information (including an updated list of experts, literature, websites etc.) with frequent blog posts on new articles, scientific papers, political news, offset examples on the ground and so on.
As the platform shall bring people and their expertise together, all those who are interested are encouraged to share their knowledge, views, questions or concerns and help to build a broad information base. Find out more on www.biodiversityoffsets.net.

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A blog by Limu:

A juxtaposition of announcements on how short-sighted political leadership is missing the evidence on the value of the environment were published last week.

Europe’s new structures battered the environment into a market defined role. A letter to the new European Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner emphasises a reporting line to a new vice-president for growth, jobs, competitiveness and investment.

On the same day a medical doctor at Aston University came up with an excellent quote on walking as ‘a magic pill’ to slow ageing (it’ll prevent obesity and diabetes, lower the risk of some cancers, and relieve depression… really magic). The evidence on accessible natural green space being a key way to motivate exercise existed 10 years ago and has strengthened since.

I think that regarding the environment as just another tool for expanding GDP, weakening its protection, is wrong. It makes me sick. It’ll make you sick too.

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I’ve joined the herd from the United States, where, painfully, the decades-old debate over whether human-induced climate change exists continues. There is common sentiment shared by those who aren’t selective about whether to believe science (and so are on the side of believing its human-induced existence) that the conversation must be shifted from a debate about whether or not it exists, or is in fact human-induced, to one which involves a serious discussion of strategies to meet emission targets and stabilize the climate. Here in the UK, the occurrence of extreme weather events (expected to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change) such as the recent landfall of the ex-hurricane Bertha, which saw some areas receiving more rain in 24 hours than they would expect in the entire month of August, further emphasises the need for a strategy.

Meeting the internationally agreed target of limiting the increase in global mean surface temperature to less than 2ºC, will require that global net emissions of greenhouse gases approach zero by the second half of the century. In other words, the profound transformation of political, societal and energy systems need be agreed upon and implemented in a smaller time frame than the ‘is there, isn’t there’ debate has existed.

The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways report, released in June by the UN secretary general, focuses on technically feasible pathways to deep decarbonisation with the aim of achieving the emission reductions consistent with meeting this international target. Strategies for twelve countries are highlighted, including the UK.

The report identifies the UK’s major drivers of future carbon emissions as economic growth and population growth, and explains their role within the strategy. The pathway presented for the UK allows for economic growth of between 2.2% – 2.5%, and focuses on the three sectors constituting the largest sources of emissions: power generation, transport, and buildings. The stages identified include the decarbonisation of the power industry by 2030, with low-carbon electricity allowing for emission reductions in end-use sectors (replacing gas use in buildings and liquid fuels in transport) in the years 2030-2050. Along with fuel switching to electrification within transport (65% of car travel to be met by electric vehicles by 2050) and buildings (20 million homes switching to heat pumps and heating district schemes by 2050), efficiency and technology retrofits by 2030 are also envisaged.

The report should draw scrutiny and incite debate, and is self-admittedly incomplete and preliminary. It presents feasible actions, timelines and scenarios, but more importantly can stimulate the necessary shift in the conversation towards zero carbon economy strategies.

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