UK Liberal Democrats Outline Plan for Carbon Neutral Britain; Includes Mandatory Zero Carbon Cars by 2040
The UK’s Liberal Democrats party has outlined a plan for making Britain carbon neutral by 2050. The measures will be debated at the party’s conference in Brighton next month.
The party’s proposed mitigation policy outlined in the paper ‘Zero Carbon Britain - Taking a Global Lead’ has three key elements: pricing carbon through trading, tax or regulation; encouraging development, demonstration and deployment to bring forward a range of low carbon technologies; and encouraging long-term behavioral changes.
Road Transportation. The plan outlines a number of actions to promote low-carbon transport technologies, including:
An increase in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) to at least 10% of all fuel sold on UK forecourts by 2015. The current RTFO sets a target for 2010 of 5% of all road fuels from suppliers to be provided by biofuels from 2008.
Increasing the RTFO would require safeguards to ensure that fuels do not come from crops which have displaced rainforest and other valuable natural habitats and carbon sinks. Full certification would be needed.
For the longer-term, the party looks to second-generation biofuels, which would need to be supported by “the most appropriate future market mechanisms.”
Press for the introduction of mandatory requirements to limit average CO2 emissions from all new cars placed on the EU single market to 120 gCO2/km by 2015 and 95 gCO2/km by 2020 through technical improvements alone.
The current direction in the EU is toward an overall mandatory target of 130 gCO2/km by 2012 with an additional 10 gCO2/km to be delivered through a range of other measures, including biofuels.
The party is also supporting a target of zero carbon for all new cars by 2040 and an effective system of penalties and incentives to ensure compliance.
The party also suggests seeking further reductions by placing pre-approval restrictions on the power of vehicles, to curb the tendency towards building fuel-inefficient vehicles and promoting mandatory fuel economy labelling in all car advertising.
Extend emissions targets to all other vehicles, to ensure that by 2050 all freight vehicles are running on electricity, biofuels or other renewable fuels. The party would focus initially on policies to extend the use of zero-carbon electric urban delivery vehicles, such as those which have been trialed in central London.
Promote a shift from road and air to rail. The party would introduce a presumption against the building of new roads where there is no overall environmental and social benefit and shift the balance of spending from roads to rail and other public transport within the existing budgets for transport.
A new Future Transport Fund would support additional investment in key rail and light rail improvements and extensions and, in the short run, reduce the cost of fares. To provide the endowment for the Future Transport Fund, the party proposes charging road freight on a pay per mile basis, varying according to emissions, similar to schemes that currently operate in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Distance charges on road freight would provide an incentive for freight to shift to rail and short sea and canal trips. The party also would use a climate change charge on air flights within the UK.
Other proposals include a commitment to 100% carbon free, non-nuclear electricity by 2050; the introduction of ‘green mortgages’ to enable people to make their homes more energy efficient; and the implementation of “green taxes” to make the polluter pay, using the revenue to cut income tax.