Parties clash over climate credentials

Includes exclusive videos of party leaders Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg talking about green policy

A A A

The three main parties today attacked each other's climate change credentials as they set out their policies to attract the "green" vote.



Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband was challenged over Labour's "failure" to deliver on renewable energy, tackle fuel poverty and improve air quality in 13 years in power.



But Mr Miliband attacked the Tories over the number of new candidates who are "sceptical" about global warming and the refusal of Conservative councils to give the go-ahead for onshore wind farms.



And he suggested that plans by the Lib Dems to meet ambitious targets to cut emissions without using nuclear power left a "massive hole" in their climate change strategy.



Mr Miliband was joined by shadow energy and climate change secretary Greg Clark, the Lib Dems' climate spokesman Simon Hughes and Green Party parliamentary candidate Darren Johnson at a hustings attended by environmental groups and aid agencies.



The parties agreed on the ambition and urgency of action on climate change, but clashed on how to achieve them.



Mr Miliband said the electorate should judge Labour on its plans, including a commitment to high-speed rail and a new role for local authorities in delivering energy efficiency, and the party's willingness to take "tough decisions" on renewables, nuclear and clean coal.



But Mr Clark said Labour's record after 13 years in power is "feeble", while Mr Hughes said it is too late for the party to claim it is green.

"Ed talks a good talk, but renewables targets are not met, 5% not 10%, fuel poverty not met, air quality targets not met... the Government hasn't delivered," he said.



Mr Miliband said the UK is a world leader on offshore wind, but accused Conservative local authorities of standing in the way of onshore wind, and questioned the party's commitment to the environment.



Mr Clark said: "We have a climate emergency and we have to act on that."



He detailed Tory plans including a "green deal" for every home to improve energy efficiency and a nationwide rollout of "smart meters" by 2016 - four years earlier than Labour proposals.



He said a Conservative government would include an environmental Bill in the Queen's Speech so legislation to tackle climate change would be brought in straight away.



He claimed the Tories' green policies had become "more specific, more ambitious and more radical" over the years.



But Mr Miliband said the Tories are fielding a number of climate sceptic candidates, and that climate change is at the bottom of a list of priorities for would-be Conservative MPs.



Challenged over the views of Torbay candidate Marcus Wood, who has said he is "sceptical" over man-made global warming, Mr Clark said there are people across the country with different views, adding: "I don't agree with him. I've never heard of him."



He said Mr Miliband's approach of labelling people who oppose wind farms as "anti-social" is counter-productive.



"This kind of lecturing from Westminster and officials in Whitehall doesn't work. We should learn from what has worked elsewhere."



He said the Conservatives would follow the lead of Denmark, where  many onshore wind farms are community-owned, and would allow local communities to keep the business rates from wind farms for six years, to encourage people to see the opportunities of renewables.



Liberal Democrat energy and climate change spokesman Simon Hughes said there should be a duty on local authorities to play their part in meeting renewables targets and helping cut emissions.



Mr Hughes said his party has a clear commitment to a zero-carbon Britain and would create a green economy with 100,000 jobs, and GBP10,000 for each household to cut emissions.



"This is a fantastic opportunity, and this is the reality of this election, that for the first time in my lifetime there could be in government a party which has a commitment at every level to the green agenda," he said.



He said the party plans, if it is involved in government, to combine the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to tackle climate change more effectively.



The Lib Dems came under fire from Mr Miliband for ruling out the use of nuclear power, but Mr Hughes said it is expensive, would take too long to come on-stream, the waste couldn't be dealt with safely and it would undermine investment in renewables.



"It's a completely foolish delusion. We don't need it and we shouldn't have it."



But Mr Miliband said: "The scale of climate change is sufficiently great it would be wrong to reject any low carbon tool we have."



Mr Johnson, who is standing in the Lewisham Deptford constituency, warned a "massive transformation" of the economy is needed, and said the scale of the challenge is huge because of decades of "dithering and inaction".



The Green Party is hoping to make its first breakthrough at Westminster, targeting three seats in particular which it believes would give it an influence on the green agenda.



Mr Johnson said his party backs a national rollout of free insulation for homes, a switch of the GBP30 billion earmarked for road building to public transport and a massive investment programme in renewables.

The Independent has been given exclusive rights to broadcast the video footage of the party leaders’ eco-manifestos, below:



www.asktheclimatequestion.org.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line IT Engineer

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent