I will be writing the following letter to all Conservative leadership hopefuls to find out what they plan to do to commit to the fight against climate change and man made emissions. I hope to receive responses and be able to publish the content of replies. I also hope that this will enable me to throw my weight behind one candidate, the candidate who has the best strategy for supporting the environment.
I will be posting responses (with permission) - scroll down for attachments
I am writing to you because I am yet to declare support for any one leadership candidate - I have been closely watching the leadership race unfold and I have been refining the image of what I would like to see in a future leader. Clearly you, or whoever wins the race, will be charged with delivering Brexit; I am mindful that I want to lend my support only to a candidate who will deliver the Brexit our country voted for, providing much needed certainty without any further unnecessary prevarication. However even more importantly, I would like the next leader I work with to be fully onboard with the environmental agenda. I hope to set out in this letter the commitments I would like to see the next leader make in order to ensure that a future government goes further than any other in the fight against anthropogenic environmental damage and emissions. I hope you will respond to this letter addressing the points I have raised and setting out how you would take them even further.
Being ‘green’ is not an alien concept for Conservative premiers - after all Margaret Thatcher is widely celebrated for her progressive stance in setting out to world leaders the need to tackle climate change. Following on from her example, how would you commit to rapidly bringing forward legislation to meet the demands and recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 'net-zero' by 2050, thus ending the UK's contribution to global warming within 30 years?
What measures would you take to close the skills gap? We will need thousands of skilled people to pave the way to a lower carbon Britain. Resources will need to be made available to those already in the workforce and to higher education institutions to finance this up-skilling. This will be important for example in building design, construction and installation of green alternative technologies e.g. heat pumps, small-scale renewable energy systems and insulation.
Closing the skills gap will enable a new leader to successfully commit to legislation ensuring new homes are carbon neutral. It is my view that a successful strategy will capitalise on the opportunity to reduce the running costs for home owners and tenants. Leaving nobody behind, funding energy efficiency measures for existing homes including support for private landlords is a must. These are measures that will help reduce our carbon footprint and create wealth and skilled jobs right across the country.
How will you commit to support research in green energy technologies and expand existing financial support to increase the number of public buildings, homes and businesses powered by renewables? I firmly believe that if we get this right, it will reduce electricity bills in our homes, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and provide the opportunity to export this technology around the world.
Will you commit to making it easier for small businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and, as a result, their running costs? At the same time, what will you do to empower consumers to reduce their own environmental footprints by improving transparency, thereby protecting people from products and services claiming false green credentials?
I hope you agree with me that it will be vital to actively support and resource well thought-out, evidence-based, carbon-free plans from both local authorities (including the Council of the Isles of Scilly) and town and parish councils. Top-down measures will only carry us so far, I would like to see a leader who acknowledges the important role of local communities.
What steps will you make to increasing tree planting? Trees can be used as a tool to reduce air pollution as well as promoting healthy living. I am currently developing a project to plant 20,000 trees by the end of 2020, with the help of local schoolchildren who demonstrated their will to protect our planet through recent climate strikes.
In rural constituencies like mine, do you agree that it is necessary to explore the introduction of a generous scrappage schemes that takes high polluting diesel cars off the road and replaces them with more efficient vehicles for low income families? In addition, how will you address the need to get light freight off the roads where possible and use the rail network to distribute these goods?
Obviously EU farm subsidies will have to be replaced in some form, within a new system. Will you commit to rewarding sustainable agriculture? Will you reward precision farming technology, which will play a role in reducing emissions and environmental impacts of farming, increasing yields and helping achieve better food security? By increasing agri-productivity, more land can be set aside for wildlife strips and biofuel crops. One idea for a leadership hopeful could be to strengthen the standards of the ‘Red Tractor’ logo, to achieve a domestically and internationally recognised gold stamp for food sustainably grown in Britain.
Finally, what measures of your own will you be taking to commit to a Global Britain we can all be proud of?
Trust in politics has diminished, people want something to believe in and be part of! A leader who can grasp this climate change challenge, giving everyone a stake in how this great nation goes forward deserves my support, and will get it!