A fair deal on the environment

Everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of our wonderful natural environment, and our children should inherit the future they deserve.

A child and two adults look at a sunset

Everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of our wonderful natural environment, and our children should inherit the future they deserve. We must act now – locally, nationally and globally. The UK can lead the world with innovation and ingenuity, while boosting the economy and enhancing everyone’s quality of life.

Liberal Democrats will hold big companies to account by giving them a duty to protect the environment, including banning water companies from dumping raw sewage into rivers, lakes and coastal areas.

We will put tackling climate change at the heart of a new industrial strategy. We will cut emissions and bills with an emergency Home Energy Upgrade programme. We will drive a rooftop solar revolution and invest in clean energy, transport and industry. We will restore nature and tackle toxic air pollution. And we will provide skills training, incentives and advice to help families and businesses with the transition to net zero.

Climate Change and Energy

Climate change is an existential threat. Soaring temperatures leading to wildfires, floods, droughts and rising sea levels are affecting millions of people directly, and billions more through falling food production and rising prices.

Urgent action is needed – in the UK and around the world – to achieve net zero and avert catastrophe.

At the same time, sky-high energy bills are hurting families and businesses, fuelling the cost-of-living crisis. Russia’s assault on Ukraine has reinforced the need to significantly reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels and invest in renewables – both to cut energy bills and to deliver energy security.

The Conservative Government has failed to act with anything close to the speed or ambition these challenges demand. The independent Climate Change Committee warns that the Government is not on track to meet its legally binding targets.

Liberal Democrats are committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045 at the latest.

We will take the bold, urgent action needed to tackle climate change, cut energy bills and create hundreds of thousands of secure, well-paid new jobs. Together with innovative British businesses, we will make the UK the world leader in the clean technologies of the future. We will help households meet the cost of the transition to net zero and make sure everyone benefits from it, leaving no one behind.

Photo a man in a blue shirt and a yellow safety helmet crouches on a roof of a building that has solar panels on it.

We will:

  • Make homes warmer and cheaper to heat with a ten-year emergency upgrade programme, starting with free insulation and heat pumps for those on low incomes, and ensure that all new homes are zero-carbon.
  • Drive a rooftop solar revolution by expanding incentives for households to install solar panels, including a guaranteed fair price for electricity sold back into the grid.
  • Invest in renewable power so that 90% of the UK’s electricity is generated from renewables by 2030.
  • Appoint a Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury to ensure that the economy is sustainable, resource-efficient and zero-carbon, establish a new Net Zero Delivery Authority to coordinate action across government departments and work with devolved administrations, and hand more powers and resources to local councils for local net zero strategies.
  • Establish national and local citizens’ assemblies to give people real involvement in the decisions needed to tackle climate change.
  • Restore the UK’s role as a global leader on climate change, by returning international development spending to 0.7% of national income, with tackling climate change a key priority for development spending.
  • Improving standards for new homes to ensure they are warm, cheap to heat and produce zero emissions.
  • Give local authorities a key role to cut emissions in their own area, including more powers and funding.
  • Make pensions green by requiring funds to comply with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement.

  • In addition, we will:

    • Take the action needed now to achieve net zero by 2045, including:
      • Meeting the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030.
      • Requiring the National Infrastructure Commission to take fully into account the environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions.
      • Putting tackling climate change at the heart of a new industrial strategy, as set out in chapter 4.
      • Investing in education and training to equip people with the skills needed for the low-carbon economy of the future, as set out in chapters 4 and 8.
      • Ensuring that nature-based solutions, including tree planting, form a critical part of the UK’s strategy to tackle climate change, as set out in chapter 12.
      • Putting our farming and food system on an environmentally sustainable footing, as set out in chapter 13.
      • Making it cheaper and easier to switch to electric vehicles, restoring the requirement that every new car and small van sold from 2030 is zero-emission, investing in active travel and public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways, and reducing the climate impact of flying, as set out in chapter 16.
      • Coordinating action across the UK by creating a Joint Climate Council of the Nations, as set out in chapter 20.
    • Cut energy bills and emissions, and end fuel poverty, by:
      • Launching an emergency Home Energy Upgrade programme, with free insulation and heat pumps for low-income households and a central role for local authorities in delivering this programme.
      • Providing incentives for installing heat pumps that cover the real costs.
      • Immediately requiring all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard, including being fitted with solar panels, and progressively increasing standards as technology improves.
      • Reintroducing requirements for landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties to EPC C or above by 2028.
      • Introducing a new subsidised Energy-Saving Homes scheme, with pilots to find the most effective combination of tax incentives, loans and grants, together with advice and support.
      • Introducing a social tariff for the most vulnerable to provide targeted energy discounts for vulnerable households.
      • Helping people with the cost of living and their energy bills by implementing a proper, one-off windfall tax on the super-profits of oil and gas producers and traders.
      • Decoupling electricity prices from the wholesale gas price.
      • Eliminating unfair regional differences in domestic energy bills.
    • Accelerate the deployment of renewable power and deliver energy security by:
      • Removing the Conservatives’ unnecessary restrictions on new solar and wind power, and supporting investment and innovation in tidal and wave power in particular.
      • Maintaining the ban on fracking and introducing a ban on new coal mines.
      • Building the grid infrastructure required, facilitated by a strategic Land and Sea Use Framework as set out in chapter 15.
      • Implementing the UK’s G7 pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies, while ensuring a just transition that values the skills and experience of people working in the oil and gas industry and provides good opportunities for them, and takes special care of the regions and communities most affected.
      • Investing in energy storage, including green hydrogen, pumped storage and battery capability.
      • Working together with our European neighbours to build a sustainable supply chain for renewable energy technology.
      • Building more electricity interconnectors between the UK and other countries to guarantee security of supply, located carefully to avoid disruption to local communities and minimise environmental damage.
    • Support the expansion of community and decentralised energy, including:
      • Empowering local authorities to develop local renewable electricity generation and storage strategies.
      • Giving small low-carbon generators the right to export their electricity to an existing electricity supplier on fair terms.
      • Requiring large energy suppliers to work with community schemes to sell the power they generate to local customers.
      • Reducing access costs for grid connections.
      • Reforming the energy network to permit local energy grids.
      • Guaranteeing that community benefit funds receive a fair share of the wealth generated by local renewables infrastructure.
    • Restore the UK’s role as a global leader on climate change by:
      • Restoring international development spending to 0.7% of national income, with tackling climate change a key priority for development spending.
      • Showing leadership on the Paris Agreement by meeting the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution and arguing for greater global ambition.
      • Working together with our European neighbours to tackle the climate emergency, including by associating the UK Emissions Trading System with the EU ETS.
      • Continuing the UK’s support for the UN Loss and Damage Fund for countries particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, to ensure a just transition for all.
      • Pressing for all OECD countries to agree to end subsidies for foreign fossil fuel projects.
    • Hold businesses to account for their role in tackling climate change by:
      • Introducing a general duty of care for the environment, as set out in chapter 4.
      • Requiring all large companies listed on UK stock exchanges to set targets consistent with achieving the net zero goal, and to report on their progress.
      • Regulating financial services to encourage climate-friendly investments, including requiring pension funds and managers to show that their portfolio investments are consistent with the Paris Agreement, and creating new powers for regulators to act if banks and other investors are not managing climate risks properly.
    • Support British industry to cut emissions by:
      • Setting out a clear and stable roadmap to net zero, repairing the damage done by Conservative U-turns and giving businesses the confidence to invest.
      • Expanding the market for climate-friendly products and services with steadily higher criteria in public procurement policy.
      • Implementing the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism for high-emission products, protecting UK businesses from unfair competition.
      • Reducing emissions from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture and storage and new low-carbon processes for cement and steel production.
      • Providing more advice to companies on cutting emissions, supporting the development of regional industrial clusters for zero-carbon innovation and increasing the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.

Natural Environment

Protecting our precious natural environment lies at the heart of the Liberal Democrat approach. Everyone should be able to enjoy open green spaces, clean blue rivers and the beauty of Britain’s coast.

Protecting our precious natural environment lies at the heart of the Liberal Democrat approach. Everyone should be able to enjoy open green spaces, clean blue rivers and the beauty of Britain’s coast.

The UK is facing a nature crisis. One in six species are threatened with extinction from Britain. Air pollution claims tens of thousands of lives every year, and costs the NHS billions. The Government’s own Office for Environmental Protection has rebuked the Conservatives for falling “far short” of the action needed. The Conservatives are using Brexit as an opportunity to erode previously high environmental standards.

Nowhere is the Conservatives’ lack of care for the environment clearer than the national sewage scandal. They are letting water company bosses get away with paying themselves millions of pounds in bonuses while dumping millions of tonnes of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and coastal areas. Just one in seven of England’s rivers are in good ecological health, and every single one is below chemical pollution standards.

Liberal Democrats have a bold plan to restore the UK’s natural environment, and give everyone access to a clean and healthy natural world.

A stream passes through a meadow

We will:

  • End the sewage scandal by transforming water companies into public benefit companies, banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end, and replacing Ofwat with a tough new regulator with new powers to prevent sewage dumps.
  • Set meaningful and binding targets to stop the decline of our natural environment and ‘double nature’ by 2050: doubling the size of the Protected Area Network, doubling the area of most important wildlife habitats, doubling the abundance of species and doubling woodland cover by 2050.
  • Plant at least 60 million trees a year, helping to restore woodland habitats, increase the use of sustainable wood in construction, and reach net zero.
  • Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organization guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.
  • 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.

  • In addition, we will:

    • Tackle the national scandal of sewage-polluted rivers, waterways and beaches, and make water companies work for people by:
      • Introducing a Sewage Tax on water company profits.
      • Enforcing existing laws to ensure that the storm overflows only function in exceptional circumstances.
      • Setting legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping into bathing waters and highly sensitive nature sites by 2030.
      • Embracing nature-based solutions to tackle the problem of sewage dumping.
      • Strengthening the powers of local authorities to monitor the health of our rivers, lakes and coastlines, restore our natural environment and tackle climate change.
      • Introducing a ‘blue corridor’ programme for rivers, streams and lakes to ensure clean and healthy water and setting new ‘blue flag’ standards.
      • Improving the quantity and quality of bathing waters and sensitive nature sites with more regular and robust testing of water quality.
      • Giving local environmental groups a place on water companies’ boards.
      • Introducing a single social tariff for water bills to help eliminate water poverty within the next Parliament.
      • Implementing Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act to require sustainable drainage systems in new developments.
      • Mandating all water companies to publish accessible real-time data on any sewage they dump.
    • Ensure everyone has access to a healthy natural environment, regardless of where they live, by:
      • Significantly increasing the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path, exploring a ‘right to roam’ for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Parks.
      • Passing a new Environmental Rights Act, recognising everyone’s human right to a healthy environment and guaranteeing access to environmental justice.
      • Making sure that the UK has the highest environmental standards in the world.
      • Protecting at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 for nature’s recovery.
      • Working together with our European neighbours to tackle the nature crisis, including applying to join the European Environment Agency.
    • Hold businesses to account for their responsibility to the environment by:
      • Introducing a general duty of care for the environment, as set out in chapter 4.
      • Requiring large businesses to publish transition plans to become nature-positive across their activities and supply chains.
      • Introducing nature-related financial disclosure requirements for large businesses.
    • Make planning work for our natural environment and ensure that developers pay their fair share by:
      • Ensuring new developments result in significant net gain for biodiversity, with up to a 100% net gain for large developments.
      • Introducing a strategic Land and Sea Use Framework to effectively balance competing demands on our land and oceans.
      • Empowering Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify a new Wild Belt for nature’s recovery.
    • Create a nature-positive economy, tackle plastic pollution and waste, and get Britain recycling by:
      • Introducing a deposit return scheme for food and drink bottles and containers, working with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency across the UK, learning the lessons from the difficulties with the Scottish scheme.
      • Aiming for the complete elimination of non-recyclable single-use plastics within three years and replacing them with affordable alternatives.
      • Working to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 through the UN High Seas Treaty and finalising a Global Plastics Treaty to cut plastic pollution worldwide.
      • Setting an ambition of ending plastic waste exports by 2030.
    • Ensure that nature-based solutions form a critical part of our strategy to tackle climate change by:
      • Restoring our peatlands as a carbon store, and banning the use of horticultural peat and the routine burning of heather on peatlands.
      • Protecting and enhancing our temperate rainforest.
      • Creating and restoring habitats like saltmarshes, mudflats and seagrass meadows to guard against coastal flooding and erosion and absorb carbon emissions.
      • Tackling ‘greenwashing’ by introducing new Blue Carbon and Soils Carbon Standards that are properly enforced and accredited.
      • Working with international partners to fight deforestation around the world.
      • Creating a real network of marine protected areas, ensuring that they are fully protected from damaging and destructive activities, protecting and restoring blue carbon and ensuring climate resilience at sea.


Liberal Democrats will enhance local, regional and national connectivity while boosting the economy, protecting the environment and improving public health.

We will:

  • Make it cheaper and easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles by rapidly rolling out far more charging points, reintroducing the plug-in car grant, and restoring the requirement that every new car and small van sold from 2030 is zero-emission.
  • Significantly extend the electrification of Britain’s rail network, improve stations, greatly improve disabled access, reopen smaller stations and deliver Northern Powerhouse rail.
  • Transform how people travel by creating new cycling and walking networks with a new nationwide active travel strategy.
  • Invest in research and development to make the UK the world leader in zero-carbon flight, and take steps to reduce demand for flying.

  • In addition, we will:

    • Make it easy and cheap to charge electric vehicles by:
      • Rolling out far more charging points, including residential on-street points and ultra-fast chargers at service stations.
      • Supporting new charging points with an upgraded National Grid and a step-change in local grid capacity.
      • Cutting VAT on public charging to 5%.
      • Requiring all charging points to be accessible with a bank card.
    • Boost bus services by:
      • Supporting rural bus services and encouraging alternatives to conventional bus services where they are not viable, such as on-demand services.
      • Maintaining the £2 cap on bus fares while fares are reviewed.
      • Replacing multiple funding streams with one integrated fund for local authorities for expanding bus services and switching to zero-emission vehicles.
      • Extending current programmes to encourage local authorities and bus operators to switch entirely to zero-emission buses.
    • Make rail a genuinely convenient, affordable and environmentally-friendly option for both passengers and freight by:
      • Urgently establishing a new Railway Agency: a public body which would help to join up the industry – from track to train – putting commuters first, holding train companies to account, and bringing in wholesale reform of the broken fare system.
      • Being far more proactive in sanctioning and ultimately sacking train operators if they fail to provide a high-quality public service to their customers.
      • Exploring the introduction of an annual pass for all railways.
      • Improving accessibility at stations through the Access for All programme.
      • Delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail to connect cities across the North of England.
      • Reviewing the Conservatives’ cancellation of the northern leg of HS2 to see if it can still be delivered in a way that provides value for money, including by encouraging private investment, or if an alternative is viable.
      • Working with local authorities to implement light rail schemes for trams and tram-trains where these are appropriate solutions to public transport requirements.
      • Establishing a ten-year plan for rail electrification to increase the number of passenger journeys covered by electric trains, investing in other zero-carbon technologies including batteries, and ensuring all new rail lines are electrified as standard.
      • Introducing a national freight strategy to move as much freight as possible from road to rail, supported by a freight growth target and electrification of freight routes.
      • Introducing an international rail strategy to support new routes and operators, and permitting other operators to use the Channel Tunnel and HS1.
    • Make public transport more affordable for young people by:
      • Extending half-fares on buses, trams and trains to 18-year-olds.
      • Working with operators to introduce a ‘Young Person’s Buscard’, similar to the Young Person’s Railcard, giving 19- to 25-year-olds a third off bus and tram fares.
    • Reduce the climate impact of flying by:
      • Reforming the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for ordinary households who take one or two international return flights per year.
      • Introducing a new super tax on private jet flights, and removing the VAT exemptions for private, first-class and business-class flights.
      • Requiring airlines to show the carbon emissions for domestic flights compared to the equivalent rail option at booking.
      • Banning short domestic flights where a direct rail option taking less than 2.5 hours is available for the same journey, unless planes are alternative-fuelled.
      • Placing a moratorium on net airport expansion until a national capacity and emissions management framework is in place, and opposing the expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted or London City airports and any new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Back our plan for the environment

We must act now: investing in green technologies and skills training, cutting air and water pollution, and taking a new approach to farming and the countryside.

You can opt-out at any time
You can opt-out at any time
Would you like to receive email updates?
Would you like to receive phone communication?

The Liberal Democrats may use the information you provide, including your political opinions, to further our objectives and share it with our elected representatives. Any data we gather will be used in accordance with our privacy policy: libdems.org.uk/privacy. You can exercise your rights and withdraw your consent to future communications by contacting us: data.protection@libdems.org.uk or: DPO, Lib Dems, 1 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PN.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.