The Liberal Democrats have taken the plunge and become the first of the major political parties in this general election campaign to launch their party manifesto. IEMA’s Senior Policy and Engagement Lead Chloë Fiddy looks at how their policies stack up in terms of the environment and sustainability.

Labelled A Fair Deal, the manifesto runs to 117 pages and sets out the party’s policy aims and ambitions. Water quality and the promise to hold water companies to account for sewerage overflowing into lakes, rivers and coastal waters makes an early entry, perhaps a key priority for a party whose leader has recently been enjoying the thrills and spills of various water sports on the campaign trail.

The post-Brexit farming trade deals come under attack for their undercutting of the UK’s high environmental standards in the farming sector, which they plan to address by re-negotiating with Europe and by introducing a general duty of care for the environment and human rights in business operations and supply chains.

Lining up in other ways with the EU, the Liberal Democrats promise to ensure the UK has the highest possible standards of environmental, health, labour and consumer protection, at least matching EU standards. And they pledge to place human rights, labour and environmental standards and protection at the heart of international trade deals. This will no doubt be good news for the many businesses struggling to do the right thing whilst remaining competitive, especially those grappling with the complexities of international supply chains.

The circular economy gets a mention, in which the manifesto hopes to use these practices to reduce resource use, waste and pollution, via the recovery, reuse, recycling and remanufacturing of products. They hope that this will cut costs for consumers and businesses.

The Lib Dems manifesto echoes IEMA’s policy asks for a swifter move to net zero standards in new buildings, and promises a range of schemes and incentives to speed up the currently sluggish progress on retrofit of the buildings already in place. It also sets out plans to further encourage the take-up of electric vehicles, whilst improving public transport networks.

So far as energy distribution is concerned, there is a focus on the need to decentralise and improve generation and distributions networks, and to invest in the new infrastructure needed to deliver the systems that will be needed to support an increasingly electrified economy.

On the natural environment, the manifesto makes bold promises to ‘double nature by 2050’ via a range of targets. It offers a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organization guidelines, to be enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.

In what will likely be music to the ears of those IEMA members working in the sectors that touch on nature, the manifesto sets out plans to strengthen the Office for Environmental Protection and provide more funding to the Environment Agency and Natural England to help protect our environment and enforce environmental laws. Plans to increase access to, and improve the quality of, natural green space will be good for social sustainability.

Interestingly, the Lib Dems are looking at what is essentially a step towards the EU’s double materiality reporting requirements, in which, via the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, companies must report on their impact on the environment as well as reporting on the impact that environmental change and legislation will have on their corporate financial health. They plan a reform fiduciary duty and company purpose rules to ensure that all large companies have a formal statement of corporate purpose, including considerations such as employee welfare, environmental standards, community benefit and ethical practice, alongside benefit to shareholders, and that they report formally on the wider impact of the business on society and the environment. This would line up reporting requirements in the UK more closely to those in the EU, which would be helpful for companies already reporting in both jurisdictions.

No manifesto review would be complete without looking at promises on green skills, a core policy objective for IEMA. The Lib Dems make many references to the need for investment in the skills that we need to get to net zero, and to ensure a just transition, and proposes Lifelong Skills Grants.

Overall, there is a lot in the manifesto for all aspects of the green sector, and we look forward to hearing more about Liberal Democrat plans alongside those of the other parties over the next few weeks.

Photo of Chloe 033
Chloë Fiddy

Policy and Engagement Lead

Chloë is the Policy and Engagement Lead for Climate Change and Energy and Social Sustainability at IEMA. Within this remit she works on projects relating to greenhouse gas reporting and transition planning and reporting, including adaptation, as well as social sustainability and just transition issues. She is particularly interested in finding practical solutions and approaches which lead to standardised, replicable and trustworthy reporting, so that decision-makers have better data to work with. Previously Chloë has worked at senior levels in the manufacturing and retail sectors, and in climate and sustainable development planning roles in the public sector.

Her prior business experience and her understanding of the way that the public sector functions inform her approach to climate change and energy and social sustainability policy and engagement at IEMA. She is a Trustee on the board of Uttlesford Citizens Advice and a District Councillor and is active in her community. In her spare time she enjoys live music and cooking for family and friends.


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