I am absolutely committed to taking bold action on climate change. I have demonstrated this in my own household, in my local community and in my role as a Cornwall Councillor. I supported the Council's Climate Emergency Declaration, I have been actively contributing to various elements of the Cornwall 2030 net-zero action plan and I voted against creating a spaceport at Newquay.
I think about responses to climate change in three broad, but inter-related areas; personal, regional and national. On a personal level I have bought an electric car and have the first 'Vehicle to Grid' charger in Cornwall. I am aware of how fragile many of our towns and villages are from the dangers of flooding and landslides. Regionally, I have been working hard as a Cornwall Councillor to support local plans for a carbon neutral economy, tree-planting programmes and ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of policies. Some areas of Cornwall are heavily polluted because of previous policies about transport and location of services, so I remain critically engaged with these changes. In terms of national legislation there is drastic need for immediate change. Everything that government oversees, arranges and sets in place needs to have climate change as a reference point, as transport, education, health, farming, industry and foreign policy all connect strongly with climate change. There is not a single part of government or society which will be unaffected by climate change. So, I will build on my local cross-party approach by seeking to form alliances with other MPs who agree with creating Citizen's Assemblies to help focus on necessary solutions. As your representative I fully support more people getting involved and having the influence to hold organisations to account about climate change.
The Liberal Democrat party has made five priority-promises in terms of national policy:
1. An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.
2. Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 and banning fracking for good.
3. Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.
4. Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.
5. We will set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest.
In terms of economic re-structuring, we will provide an additional £12 billion over five years specifically to develop greener power generation and support reduction of carbon emissions. We will act to expand community and decentralised energy, supporting councils to develop local electricity generation and require all new homes to be fitted with solar panels. The party supports investment and commitment to developing cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, smart grids and researching the use of hydrogen. As politicians we will ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, the energy regulator Ofgem, and the Crown Estate work together to deliver our net zero climate objective.
However, I have a policy of not signing pledges because they undermine the principle that MPs are elected to act as representatives, not delegates. Committing to a phrase as broad as "I'll make the climate-crisis a deal-breaker in how I vote in Parliament" would inevitably end in cries of betrayal.
What should I do if Boris Johnson is five votes short of a majority and offers to hold a Brexit referendum in six months, followed by a fresh general election? Should I only say yes if he agrees to change his climate target from 2050 to 2030? If I make that a deal-breaker, we may end up with another General Election in February, delivering a Conservative majority, a hard Brexit and no change to the climate target.
I hope you can see from my track-record that I am the greenest candidate in this election, even though I will not be signing this pledge.