This weekend, the Liberal Democrats committed themselves to fighting for clean electricity. It’s a great step towards a clean energy future – but now it’s time for them to deliver.
It’s been a wet but exciting weekend at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton. As wind and rain lashed the pebbly beach, delegates were pledging to clean up our power.
In the first half of this year there had been worrying noises from the government about the future of our energy. The Committee on Climate Change had formally advised that we need to make a clear commitment to carbon-free electricity by 2030 in the upcoming Energy Bill – but an early version made no mention of this critical target.
The man in charge of the Energy Bill – Liberal Democrat Ed Davey – was keeping quiet about whether he would commit to ‘decarbonise’ our electricity. Instead, under pressure from the Tory Chancellor George Osborne and the gas lobbyists, he looked set to drop the target and make way for a climate-wrecking and bill-hiking dash for gas.
This weekend, all that changed. As the political correspondent of the Financial Times noted, Osborne scuppering the green agenda was the hot topic of the conference, with senior Lib Dems queuing up to condemn the blue roadblock to green growth thrown up by a small number of ‘Tea Party’ Tories.
Leading the pack was Danny Alexander, Osborne’s number two at the Treasury. He’s normally a Coalition loyalist, which shows how isolated the Chancellor and his toxic agenda are becoming.
Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems Simon Hughes even took one of our posters up on stage with him, saying he was ready to stand up to Osborne and stop him killing green growth – to much applause from Lib Dem members.
A couple of hours ago, the Lib Dems passed a motion supporting green growth, including a commitment to decarbonise our electricity by 2030. They weren’t the only ones to do the right thing – on Friday, Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he was backing clean electricity too.
It’s been a great weekend, but there’s still a long way to go. We’ve all seen Lib Dems make and break their promises before. The key test is therefore whether they’re prepared to stand up for what they believe in and fight for clean power in the Cabinet and vote for it in Parliament.
They’ve got a mandate from their party and a mandate from the people. Will they keep their nerve – or will this be another sorry?