Environmentalism Politics

What I said at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool, Pt. 2: On Green Transport

Apologies for the massive delay in this post; I made a second speech at the Lib Dem conference in March, this time on the five green laws that formed one of the key planks of the manifesto. In particular, I spoke about the need for green transport. The speech is, as always, below the cut.

It’s been said that there are two things that will pack a Lib Dem debate: beer and trains. And I’m glad to see so many people here proving me right.

Make no mistake, green transport is an important issue. 45% of emissions come from transport. Of those, 70% come from private motorised transport. And half of those motor journeys are less than five miles. You don’t need to have a degree to see that something is very wrong with that.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister, as part of his party’s retreat from progressive ideals to chase the UKIP vote, has claimed that his party had declared war on the motorist. What war is that? By all accounts, Labour did nothing for green transport. They electrified nine miles of rail track. Not nine hundred. Not ninety. Nine. Until Lord Adonis came in, the North’s rail structure was left to rot. It took sexual assault in one of our busiest railway stations for Labour’s eyes to turn north of the M25.

I’m going to be brutally honest here: we need to be at war with the car. Or at least, the petrol car. It kills green innovation. It kills animals. It kills the planet. And it’s simply not sustainable. We’re going to run out of oil soon. We’re declaring illegal wars and destabilising entire continents as part of the human fetish for oil. And we can’t just build more roads. It’s the classic example of induced demand: more roads means more cars means more roads means more cars…

We need to be getting people out of their cars and into walking and cycling. Not only does it cut emissions, it cuts the health bill because people are healthier. We need electric powered trains and buses, so as electricity goes green, so do our trains. We need greener electricity. Wind. Tidal barraging. Solar. Geothermal. We can power the whole world with little effort if only we tried. It makes our politics and the world much more stable. It leaves a world worth living in to our children and grandchildren.

I walked past the Green Lib Dem stall today, where a banner says that we’re the “greenest party of government”. I would say that we are the greenest party, end of. We’ve been calling for an all–electric train system by 2050 for years. We’ve been calling for sustainable energy since before the Green Party existed. And we’re not calling for the only proposal on the table to fix the capacity crisis on the West Coast Main Line to be abolished just so we can win a couple of seats in Camden.

Please vote for this motion.

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