Conference reiterates the Liberal Democrat belief that Britain's future prosperity depends on developing an economy that is innovative, entrepreneurial, internationally open and environmentally sustainable, where the benefits of growth are shared fairly across the country and with future generations.
Conference believes that this needs to include measures to improve the efficiency of resource use and decarbonise the economy, which will help create high skills, high value-added industries able to compete in the new global markets for low-carbon and resource-efficient products, technologies and services, and create jobs throughout the country.
Conference condemns the Conservative government for comprehensively undermining Britain's growing green industries and destroying investor confidence in the long-term policy framework needed to support the sector, including in particular the precipitate withdrawal of support for many forms of renewable energy, the planned privatisation of the Green Investment Bank and the abandonment of previous commitments to investors in the carbon capture and storage programme - the effects of all of which will be magnified by the unnecessary and catastrophic decision to hold a referendum on EU membership.
Conference calls for a new green industrial strategy, targeted at technologies that can underpin emerging green industries, including measures to:
- Establish a clear and consistent government commitment to policies that create long-term demand for low-carbon technologies and related infrastructure, such as renewable electricity and heat, low-carbon transport and energy efficiency - giving investors the confidence to invest.
- Reform the planning framework and associated guidance to enable local authorities to encourage a consistent and positive approach to applications for low and zero carbon installations across the domestic, non-domestic, public and community sphere.
- If possible, end the privatisation of the Green Investment Bank; if not possible, use the government's special share in the GIB to ensure that it supports ambitious green investments; in either case, increase its capitalisation, allow it to raise funds from capital markets independently, enable it to issue green bonds and expand its remit to a wider range of technologies.
- Strengthen support for green innovation, including:
- Committing greater public funding on a longer timescale to support innovation.
- Developing a broader range of support for firms developing new green technologies, including long-term patient-finance vehicles (through which government holds equity in the companies) and providing guarantees, insurance or other risk transfer products to increase the flow of capital towards the companies.
- Further developing the network of R&D agencies and Catapults, identifying where new ones may be necessary to encourage innovation in core green economy technologies.
- Working with local authorities to create innovation hubs, linking universities to businesses, promoting mutual learning and encouraging exchange of ideas.
- Encourage the creation of green financial products to bring consumer capital into green industries.
- Include steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy, helping to grow the markets for green technologies, products and services.
- Extend mandatory corporate reporting on social and environmental impacts to all large companies; reform stock market listing rules; support asset owner initiatives to adopt environmental, social and corporate governance policies such as the Association of Member Nominated Trustees' Red Line Voting and require the Financial Conduct Authority and Financial Reporting Council to ensure that fund managers will implement them; and support moves to give more control by individual savers over pension fund investments.
- Legislate to confirm the UK's continued adherence to established EU environmental legislation and targets.
- Legislate to require UK Trade & Investment and UK Export Finance to promote exports of low-carbon and environmental products and technologies, and stop providing support for exports of fossil-fuel and related industries.