7 ways the Lib Dems have failed the environment

With a track record like this, how do the Lib Dems expect us to take seriously their claim to protect the environment and halt climate change?

With a track record like this, how do the Lib Dems expect us to take seriously their claim to protect the environment and halt climate change?

Not only is it no-news season, but it’s also less than ten months until the next election. That explains the latest raft of speeches and announcements from Labour and the Tories. Now it’s the turn of the Lib Dems.

Environment minister Dan Power announced yesterday that, if the Lib Dems stayed in power, they would place Britain’s forests in a protected trust to stop them being privatised. They would also, according to the Guardian, aim to plant 700,000 trees a year and bring in statutory targets on air and water quality.

The question is, if they’re expecting they can do it under a Tory government, why haven’t they done it already?

That is not to dismiss the idea. But to accept the Lib Dems’ pledge at face value you have to forget all the other environmental catastrophes the party have helped push through. Most, clearly, were Tory-initiated; but this wouldn’t have stopped the Lib Dems being able to exert pressure or veto them.


Where were the Lib Dems last week when the government announced plans to allow fracking in national parks and World Heritage sites? Despite slightly strengthened protections, homeowners have lost their right to prevent frackers drilling under their homes without permission while huge swathes of the country will be opened up for gas extraction.

Recycling rates

Recycling rates under this government have plateaued. We’re way behind the rest of Europe and, according to Defra’s own statistics “The rate of increase in the last year is insufficient to meet the 50 per cent EU target by 2020”. This is a clear failure – as is the enormous rise in use of plastic bags.

recycling rates

CO2 emissions rise

Outsourcing appears to be the status quo for this government – even for climate change. A report by the Climate Change Committee last year said real CO2 emissions were rising because the UK was importing more goods that pollute other countries. Meanwhile, the setting of a ‘decarbonisation target’ which would limit power station emissions has been held off until after the election – essentially dropping the idea altogether.

Green levies

Despite some mild Lib Dem resistance, the government’s cut to green levies – what previously funded massive insulation and energy efficiency schemes – went through without much trouble. Danny Alexander said he wouldn’t ‘compromise’ on them. Looks like they did. And if they’re too toothless to successfully fight off that, how will the Lib Dems ever get us towards reaching our necessary climate change targets?

‘Green crap’

Where were the Lib Dems when David Cameron and George Osborne were ranting against ‘green crap’ and pledging to abolish ‘costly’ green policies? There’s been barely a week over the past year when cabinet ministers have not been railing against the environment, spurred on no doubt by UKIP. But in a cabinet where collective responsibility rules (i.e. statements must be agreed by Silence is telling.

Renewable energy subsidies slashed

Not only were guaranteed prices for renewable energy slashed when the government came to power, but they enshrined it in a mechanism to annually cut it further – most recently putting anaerobic digestion plants at risk.

‘Bonfire of the quangos’

Former Friends of the Earth chair Jonathon Porritt writes: “One of the first things [the coalition] government did was to get rid of the Sustainable Development Commission – the one body with the resources and independent stature to do precisely that.” Meanwhile other public organisations such as the Environment Agency, charged with protecting the country from floods, have faced huge cuts to their budgets through the Lib Dem-backed austerity programme.

With a track record like this, how do the Lib Dems expect us to take seriously their claim to protect the environment and halt climate change?

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11 Responses to “7 ways the Lib Dems have failed the environment”

  1. Cllr Gareth Kane

    A load of cherry-picked nonsense, let’s look at the big picture.

    Record levels of renewable energy (19.4% last year, double 2010), Green Investment Bank, successful defence of the 4th carbon budget, mandatory carbon reporting for FTSE listed companies, new targets on fuel poverty, EV/PHEV sales booming (EV sales up a factor of >4 in the last financial year), an average of £7bn invested in renewables every year since 2010 (double the pre-2010 average), restructuring of the energy markets, 200,000 new green jobs, the green sector being behind much of recent economic growth etc, etc. Even your plastic bag tax is on the way (altho’ that’s more symbolic than anything else). All this while shackled to the Tories.

    What have Labour offered? A freeze on energy prices which has already damaged investor confidence in renewables and pushed up prices in anticipation.

  2. Cole

    How about answering tbe points made instead of slagging off Labour (LFF is not a Labour blog)?

  3. Cllr Gareth Kane

    My point is the issues raised have been cherry-picked. I could go into detail about why the Feed-In Tariff needed revising in the face of plummeting solar panel prices, but that’s indulging the cherry picking. The big picture is the Lib Dems have done well forcing significant progress despite Tory foot-dragging.

  4. Tom

    You’ve mostly just listed things that have happened in the economy – whereas the article as about Government action. You need to show that the LDs are actually responsible for some of those things (e.g. the green jobs) – which is particularly difficult for you, when green industries (and others) roundly condemned the LDs on the decarbonisation target (among other things).

  5. Mike

    Why don’t YOU cease the cherry picking, and address all the other points raised?
    You will not because you can’t.

  6. Cllr Gareth Kane

    If the LD record is as bad as the article above suggests, then how did all these things happen? Eg FiTs needed revising or a small number of rich investors would have made a killing out of the ordinary consumer. The article lists it as a failure, yet renewable energy has continued to boom…

  7. Cllr Gareth Kane

    Could. But to do so validates the cherry-picking, which is my whole point.

  8. Cole

    Oh well, let’s hope you’re happy when they frack under your house. Liberalism in action!

  9. Guest

    Record levels of subsidies, raising bills dramatically, and lots of uneconomic investments. Defending a nasty RO system which causes the above.

    What you’ve done is create new targets for *causing* fuel poverty, no more, as you make up jobs out of thin air and your “restructuring” has added to profits…the City is behind the bubble, I’m sure they’re raking it in off the poor here.

    And of course, you’re explicitly supporting (Coalition) the fracking.

  10. Guest

    Because it’s a rich get richer situation. FiT’s have not been substantially changed for i.e. rich homeowners, and the replacement is worse for consumers.

    Boom, the bills blow up higher and higher. Your results, as your coalition starts fracking.

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