Climate and the Environment
The world is facing a climate emergency with potentially disastrous consequences for human existence - consequences that are already being experienced by some of the most fragile species and most vulnerable people on earth. It is vital that all regions, and nations, work together to urgently reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of climate change.
We need to:
- Reduce the UK’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030.
- Mitigate the impact of climate change by implementing a comprehensive climate action plan.
- Embed environmentalism at the heart of government planning and delivery.
Although many energy powers are devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, renewable energy is a matter that needs to be championed by Northern Ireland’s MPs.
Northern Ireland has an incredible opportunity in terms of renewable energy: we have the second highest potential for energy generation through wind in Europe, as well as significant opportunity for tidal, biomass and geothermal energy production.
Alliance will cut carbon emissions through adapting Northern Ireland’s energy use.
- Support the continued existence of the all-island energy market. This market is under significant threat from Brexit and any curtailing of it would create significant problems for electricity supply in Northern Ireland.
- End the use of fossil fuels in the UK economy, including banning fracking and the opening of new coalmines and pits, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
- Scrutinise every UK-wide energy package to ensure it prioritises renewable energy and acts to keep prices as low as possible.
- Support research funding and revenue streams that promote innovation in renewable energy.
The impacts of climate change are already upon us and are hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. We are experiencing changing and variable weather and climate patterns, increases in flooding, changes in the natural environment, habitats and biodiversity within these islands, and bringing a financial cost to the Treasury of addressing these and related problems.
Governments must recognise these changes are occurring and be sure that we account for them.
In Westminster, Alliance will seek to:
- Green the taxation system to make the polluters pay and to reward progress towards net zero. Ban non-recyclable single-use plastics and replace them with accessible, affordable alternatives within three years, and extend deposit return schemes for food and drink containers throughout the UK.
- Accelerate the rapid take-up of electric vehicles through subsidies and vehicle tax reform, to ensure there are no new fossil fuel cars or small vans sold in the UK after 2030.
- Support innovation in zero-emission technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.
- Introduce a zero-carbon standard for all new buildings by 2021 and support a UK-wide emergency programme to reduce energy consumption from all buildings, including providing insulation to cut emissions and fuel bills, and ending fuel poverty.
- Audit the existing UK flooding infrastructure to establish which areas need priority investment; either improving or constructing defences.
- Work with industry to introduce circular economy models and provide funding to accelerate the introduction of industrial carbon capture and storage.
- Prioritise climate change mitigation in agricultural support systems, including measures to increase soil carbon, tree planting and woodland creation.
- Adopt a UK-wide programme to restore peatlands, carbon sinks and plant an additional 60 million trees a year.
Climate Frameworks and Finance
In order to tackle the climate emergency effectively, we need to ensure climate action is at the heart of every relevant decision at every level of government. Whilst some schemes need a UK-wide approach, many will also require Northern Ireland to shape and implement local equivalents. Alliance supports:
- Creating a Just Transition Commission to advise on how to deliver a net-zero economy that works for everyone, and Just Transition Funds to support development in those regions and communities most affected by the transition.
- Ensuring climate objectives are a top priority for central government, including appointing a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury, creating a new Department for Climate and Natural Resources and introducing a requirement on all public bodies to report on the extent to which climate risks pose a threat to their ability to fulfil their responsibilities.
- Investing in zero-carbon infrastructure and technologies by establishing a new Green Investment Bank to steer private investment into these sectors.
- Establishing Citizens’ Climate Assemblies to engage the public in tackling the climate emergency.
- Regulating financial services to encourage green investments, including requiring all companies registered in the UK and listed on UK stock exchanges to disclose their level of climate risk and make provisions for the costs associated with meeting targets compliant with the Paris Agreement.