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Keep our Country Green

Eighteen months ago, it seemed that the world had come to a consensus on the need to take the perils of climate change seriously. Countries across the globe had recognised that rising temperatures and pollution were not just an environmental issue, but an economic and security issue. But with the election of Donald Trump in the US and Britain's vote to leave the EU, the tides of isolationism and populism could halt or even reverse the progress that has been made.

The Conservatives seem determined to take Britain back to the 1980s, when the UK was the 'dirty man of Europe'. They have cut support for renewable energy and home insulation, sold off the Green Investment Bank and failed to control air pollution. Their actions put not just Britain's environment at risk but the health of its citizens and its economy, undermining the increasingly successful green industries which already employ more than half a million workers.

Liberal Democrats are determined that we live up to our environmental obligations. That's why we will pass five green laws: 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.

Our priorities in the next parliament will be:

5.1 Clean air and green transport

Air pollution in the UK is a killer. It contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year and costs the NHS £15 billion. This year, London exceeded its annual air pollution target in just five days. The government has failed time and again to comply with EU limits on pollution.

That's why the Liberal Democrats will pass a Green Transport Act, introduce an Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution and protect UK citizens, and support the manufacture of low-emission and electric vehicles, generating jobs and exports. This plan will include:

We will also reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and lowemission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.

5.2 Low-carbon energy and green jobs

In government, we championed green energy, and oversaw the trebling of renewable electricity generation. But the Conservatives have repeatedly cut support for green energy producers - damaging the environment and costing British jobs.

Liberal Democrats will expand renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, cutting dependence on fossil fuel imports and generating more jobs and prosperity. We will:

5.3 Greener homes, lower energy bills

At more than £1,200 a year, the cost of heating and lighting an average home in the UK is too high - and with a falling exchange rate, costs will rise further. More than two million families - one in 10 households in England - cannot afford to heat their home properly.

Liberal Democrats will reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes. We will make saving energy a top infrastructure priority, slashing energy bills and carbon emissions, creating thousands of jobs and helping end the fuel poverty crisis once and for all. We will:

5.4 Protecting nature

Britain's natural environment is precious. The countryside, wildlife and urban green spaces are critical to health, wellbeing and a sense of community. The quality of the environment also underpins key industries such as agriculture and tourism. We will:

5.5 Farming, food and agriculture

The vote to leave the EU puts farming and agricultural businesses in huge danger, threatening both cuts to the support which underpin farmers' livelihoods and ability to manage the countryside, and also tariffs on exports. For agricultural products outside the EU, tariffs average 22.3% - putting Britain's £18 billion of food exports in danger.

Our system must support farmers, ensure food production and protect the environment. That's why we will:

Despite reform, the Common Fisheries Policy has failed to deliver the economic or environmental objectives necessary and has suffered from being remote, overly centralised and bureaucratic. Hard Brexit and the loss of export markets threatens to further damage the industry, which has long suffered from being used as a bargaining chip by UK governments. Liberal Democrats would defend and maintain our fishing industry by not allowing fishing rights to be traded away against other policy areas, and work with the industry and other stakeholders to develop a national plan for sustainable fisheries.

5.6 Cutting waste, using resources wisely

Britain's economy fails to make the most efficient use of natural resources. We aim to cut waste, increase recovery, reuse and recycling and move towards the so-called 'circular economy' in which resource use, waste and pollution are minimised and product lifetimes are extended. This will cut costs for consumers and businesses, and create new jobs and enterprises, helping to grow Britain's economy. We will:

To ensure the policies set out in this chapter are implemented, and to put the protection of the environment at the heart of policies across all areas of government, we will establish a Cabinet Committee on Sustainability, chaired by a cabinet minister, establish an Office for Environmental Responsibility to scrutinise the government's efforts to meet its environmental targets, and place a responsibility on every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets in everything it does.