It may be difficult to imagine planning beyond next Thursday, 5th May, at this moment.
Polling day is on the horizon and based on the feedback we are getting from across the board, we may be looking to have some remarkable successes for our party this year.
This kind of result has the potential to be great for our planet.
That's why, this summer, our Green Liberal Democrats Summer School and Conference is indispensable. If we hit the ground running, this can be "A Turning Point" in our fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Tickets to "A Turning Point" at Nottingham University on Saturday, June 11th - are available now:
Energy bills are spiking. 7.5 million households are set to enter fuel poverty. We are all feeling the squeeze.
On the first of April 2022, the energy price cap rose by 54%, burdening 22 million customers with increased bills. Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 per year, whilst prepayment customers are experiencing an increase of £708, from £1,309 to £2,017.
It's our job as Liberal Democrats to advocate for these people.
Whilst we have presented a full plan for reducing the cost of living, home insulation has increased in relevance in light of the campaigning efforts of groups like Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.
A fabric first approach to reducing costs by investing in better homes could transform the experience of opening utility bills at the end of the month.
This briefing and campaign pack will outline how we can promote our plan for better homes and lower bills.
Well insulated homes save £671 in energy bills per year. Not to mention the human cost.
In the winter of 2018-19, 17,000 lives were lost due to cold housing conditions, the highest since 1976. A greater quantity than the cumulative deaths from breast and brain cancers in the same period.
The UK has the second worst cold weather mortality rate of 30 European countries, and when balanced for wealth, rank amongst the worst in the world.
In turn, energy usage in our homes accounts for 14% of UK emissions. To tackle the climate emergency, we know that we must urgently reduce our carbon footprint. The phrase 'activism starts at home' could not be more true. It shouldn't cost the earth to live in a healthy, comfortable dwelling.
But instead of helping households to reduce their costs, tackling the health crisis of draughty homes, and reducing our carbon emissions, the Government slashed regulations for developers, costing those in new homes £361 million extra every year.
The price of inaction is too high for our communities and climate.
In the Spring of 2021, the Liberal Democrats proposed that the Windfall from auctions of offshore wind farm rights should be used to invest in a Sovereign Green Wealth Fund. This would finance an emergency ten-year programme to insulate every home.
Sir Ed Davey MP called for 'Lower heating bills for everyone - and an end to fuel poverty. Warmer homes for everyone - and green jobs in every village, town and city across the UK.'
E3G analysis found that for every £1 of government money invested in retrofit, £3.20 comes back into the economy by way of increased GDP. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.
This reiterates pledges made in our 2019 manifesto, which you can read here.
Our plan calls on the government to:
Invest in grants to upgrade insulation in all existing homes, creating over 500,000 skilled green jobs.
Require all new homes to be eco-friendly, tackling developers who cut corners with higher standards and regular inspections.
Increase minimum efficiency standards for privately rented properties and remove the cost cap on improvements, so tenants aren't trapped in cold homes.
Empower councils to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street.
Grade Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property.
We've produced a pack of essential resources for campaigning on improving our homes:
We have full and two-colour Focus drop-in articles highlighting our call for better homes and lower bills.
With nominations now closed for the May elections, many thanks to everyone who has put in so much work to getting candidates approved, selected and safely nominated. From a first look at the numbers, we've seen a good increase in our candidate totals in Scotland and Wales, with the numbers broadly the same in England compared with last time.
The improvement in air quality that we saw during lockdowns brought the issue, an early target of environmentalism, to the fore of public attention. The moment provided us with insight into what might be possible for future air quality in our communities.
Given the significant threat to health and well-being that poor air quality represents, raising awareness of the transformative impact that local initiatives can have is a vital campaign point.
YouGov polling found that across six European countries, two thirds said they did not want to go back to pre-Covid pollution levels. Roughly the same proportion (68%) agreed that cities and towns must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, even if it means preventing polluting cars from entering city centres to protect clean air, with as many as 63% of drivers themselves in support.
Around three quarters (74%) of respondents believed that cities must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, with just 10% opposed.
We have an opportunity, as we look forward, to improve the health of people and the planet.
Air Pollution is the most significant environmental threat to health in the UK, responsible for 36,000 early deaths every year. It causes the development of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer.
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the primary cause of damage, with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) also responsible.
Children are at greater risk from air pollution, with those living in polluted areas more likely to have reduced lung growth. Maternal exposure to polluted air can result in premature and low birth-weight babies.
A quarter of UK children attend schools with air pollution above the World Health Organisation limit, placing 3.4 million young people at increased risk of asthma, obesity, and cognitive impairments.
Schools should be safe places. They should not threaten the health of our children.
However, the United Kingdom's national limits for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are set at four times the level of the World Health Organisation guidelines, and the principal source of these are traffic emissions, with wood-burning stoves also being a major contributing factor in some areas.
Following the tragic death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, air pollution was listed as a cause of death for the first time in December of 2020. In a report to prevent future deaths, the coroner recommended a reduction in national limits of particulate matter.
At Liberal Democrats 2022 Spring Conference, the Party passed motion F9: Action to Improve Air Quality, proposed by Cllr Hina Bokhari AM and Summated by Cllr Jon Ball.
The Motion calls on local authorities to:
Install more pollution sensors near major roads and at every urban school.
Publicise local air quality issues including publishing live pollution levels from their pollution sensors stating specific levels of pollutants using globally recognised units of measurement.
Work to improve air quality in their area.
Take into account likely differential air pollution changes in different roads when designing traffic schemes.
Consider implementing or extending Clean Air Zones, in consultation with residents and local businesses to ensure that such zones reduce net pollution and don't merely displace activity
Promote schemes to allow the rapid and affordable replacement of petrol and diesel vehicles by lower polluting vehicles by local businesses in conjunction with the introduction of Clean Air zones.
Establish No-Idling Zones outside schools.
Conference also called for the Government to:
Urgently bring forward statutory instruments under the Environment Act 2021 to introduce legally binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants at or below current WHO guidelines.
Introduce a fully-funded obligation for all local authorities to install and maintain pollution sensors in their areas.
Introduce a scrappage scheme targeted at the most polluting older vehicles, in particular old diesel vehicles, and at vehicles used by local businesses in proposed Clean Air Zones.
Introduce targeted funding to provide financial support for the operators of buses, taxis and private hire vehicles to switch to less polluting technologies.
Increase the Air Quality Grant Programme which provides funding to local authorities to tackle locally identified air pollution issues.
Encourage local authorities to run public education style programmes and allow them to follow these with an increased maximum penalty that they can apply to drivers leaving their engines idling, with the local authorities retaining 100% of the money raised.
Fund local authorities to introduce more electric charging points in Clean Air Zones, allowing supply to keep ahead of demand.
Life's been tough for lots of people over the past few years. And it's still tough. But with their trademark decency and strength, the British people are rising to the challenge. Raising families. Caring for others. And playing by the rules.
Now more than ever, it's time for a fair deal.
Yet with the rising cost of living, this Conservative Government is letting you down badly and taking you for granted.
We've teamed up withPower for Peopleto support local campaigners to advocate for the essential Local Electricity Bill.
We must urgently decarbonise our power grid and reduce the influence of unstable overseas fossil fuel prices. Community-scale renewables are a great solution; providing green, clean energy that stimulates local economies.
Spiking energy prices have highlighted our dependence on imported oil and gas, enabling petrostate autocrats to act with few consequences.
Energy independence is essential and can only be achieved at the pace we require through a combination of large-scale infrastructure investment and local developments.
But unfair regulations and disproportionate costs are stifling opportunity.
If you want to buy your electricity from local renewable sources such as the nearby school that has solar panels on its roof, you cannot. We all buy our electricity from a utility company that sources it from anything connected to the National Grid, be it a field of solar panels in Flintshire or a coal fired power station in Yorkshire.
There is so much potential for energy to be generated, bought, and sold locally - but the supply costs and red tape involved make it almost impossible to do so.
In 2014, a report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change whilst Ed Davey MP was Secretary of State found that community energy had the potential to produce over 3,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity by 2020.
However, the Environmental Audit Committee reported in 2020 that only 278MW of capacity was being produced by the community energy sector, less than 10% of that projected.
Imagine someone setting up a local bakery, planning to deliver their bread to local businesses, and then being told that they have to pay £1 million in road tax for their delivery van.
This is the reality for local renewable energy production.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that the financial, technical, and operational challenges involved in setting up a licensed energy supply company mean that initial costs exceed £1 million. The market structure is rigged against them.
As a result of its 2021 Technological Innovations and Climate Change inquiry, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recommended that a 'Right to Local Supply' be established.
The Local Electricity Bill, written and advocated for by Power for People, would establish this Right to Local Supply and make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers affordable and proportionate to the size of the supply company.
So far, the Bill has been supported by 300 cross-party MPs and the Liberal Democrats, but will not become law without sustained and organised campaigning.
For councillors, Power for People have written a Motion in support of the Bill.
The resolution calls on your Council to declare its endorsement of the campaign, write to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and ask local MPs to join the coalition in support of the Bill.
P.S: We have plenty more briefings coming down the road for campaigners and candidates just like yourself! Be sure to share this with fellow activists and encourage them to join us for more of the same!
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