IEMA held a roundtable session with Wera Hobhouse MP, the parliamentary member for Bath to understand more about the Liberal Democrats approach to climate and energy policy as we begin to approach the next general election. In this short blog Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, recalls the key talking points.

During party conference season the Liberal Democrats set out several policies including a pledge to bring forward the net zero target in the UK by five years to 2045, the establishment of a Net Zero Delivery Authority and a commitment to put in place investment so that by 2030 80% of our power is generated from renewable sources.

This roundtable session was an opportunity for IEMA members to dig into the proposals and tackle some specific questions around the transition to a cleaner economy, including the pathway to net zero.

Some of the key questions that the session focused on, included:

  • What more needs to be done to decarbonise critical sectors, such as infrastructure and heavy industry, and what policies should be put in place to drive the transition?
  • What regulatory frameworks and policies need to be in place to provide the investment community, and other businesses, with the stability and confidence to invest in net zero?
  • What other requirements and considerations are key for decarbonising the UK’s economy at pace?

In her opening remarks, Wera revisited the commitments that her party has made during conference season around the net zero target and the ambition to deliver a power system that is 80% renewable energy by 2030.

Another point that Wera made centred on the perception that the cross-party consensus that the UK had achieved on the need to tackle climate change urgently has been eroded by the series of regressive announcements that government has recently made. For example, on oil and gas licensing.

There was also a focus on the need to revisit the narrative around home insulation. Specifically, shifting the emphasis to delivering warm and comfortable homes as opposed to talking only about cost or the opaqueness of the retrofitting regime in the UK. An idea that was welcomed by those in attendance at the roundtable.

Member contributions, and those from other experts, focused on the need to better link the climate and nature challenges, particularly at the local level. Community power generation and moving away from the focus on nationally significant infrastructure were also discussed.

The need for government and policymakers to better engage with stakeholders dominated much of the second part of the roundtable. This was both in terms of government improving how it engages with the business community and with the public. On the latter, it was suggested that the UK needs to put in place more effective citizen style assemblies that can input on public policy discourse over the long-term.

The session finished with attendees highlighting the need for there to be a just transition for workers in sectors that may not exist in the future as the economy moves onto a more sustainable footing. Something that will become more pressing if we are able to deliver 80% renewable power by 2030 and if progress were to accelerate on decarbonising heat and heavy industry too.

Our final public affairs roundtable session of 2023 will take place in December when we welcome Tanmanjeet Dhesi MP, Labour's Shadow Exchequer Secretary, for a discussion on green finance policy.

Don’t forget that IEMA published a series of key policy recommendations in the lead into the party conference season, which will provide the basis for our campaigning activity for the general election. More information on that here.

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


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