Where the parties stand: Environment

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Indy Politics

Labour

Labour is promising the make the transition towards a low-carbon economy that would not only tackle climate change but also provide large numbers of new green jobs, with the aim of seeing 1.2m people in environment-related employment by the end of the current decade. The party aims to give a quarter of British homes a full eco-makeover by 2020 and to install a smart meter in every home, also by 2020, making it easier to cut energy use and save money on bills; to give a further six million households help with insulation by 2012, and to have phased out high-energy light bulbs in favour of energy efficient ones by next year. The party would also continue with major efforts to tackle climate change internationally. Labour would maintain the ban on fox hunting, which the Tories would seek to repeal.

Tories

David Cameron rebranded the Tory Party with a green paintbrush but there are signs – watched anxiously by environmentalists – that the environment is losing its allure for the party. Although they back the current Government's climate change targets for cutting carbon emissions and want restrictions on coal-fired power stations, they have yet to endorse publicly its renewable energy programme for building windfarms (not popular in the shires). Their most prominent green selling point at the moment is their pledge to cancel the planned third runway at London's Heathrow Airport, and replace it with a high-speed rail line to the north. On the countryside, they would bring in a bill to repeal the Hunting Act 2004, the measure that outlawed foxhunting, and allow a free vote on it in government time.

Lib Dems

Most distinctively, the Lib Dems would scrap the move towards new nuclear power, which has been endorsed by the other main parties as part of their strategy to combat climate change, on the grounds that there are no plans yet to dispose of the new waste arisings and there will have to be a massive public subsidy to build any new plants. Instead, the party promises a massive programme of investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power, and ways to make the cost of energy less of a burden, with a fair social tariff system for disadvantaged families. On the countryside, the Lib Dems promise to promote schemes to enhance wildlife, such as a "Green National Grid", which would link the habitats of rare species.

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