10/11/2019 20:03 GMT

Lib Dems Pledge To Bring Back Climate Change Department Scrapped By Tories

Party says move needed to fight climate change "emergency".

PA Wire/PA Images
Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson makes a speech at a rally at the Battersea Arts Centre in Lavender Hill, while on the General Election campaign trail in London.

The Lib Dems have promised to bring back the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to fight “the climate emergency”, should the party win the election.

DECC was abolished by the Theresa May in July 2016 and merged into the newly created Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Wera Hobhouse, the Lib Dem climate spokesperson, said the move was part of efforts to “undo” to damage done to the environment by the Conservatives.

DECC was created by Gordon Brown in 2008. May’s decision to scrap it when she became prime minister was widely criticised by environmental campaigners, with Friends of the Earth branding it “shocking”. Ed Miliband, the first secretary of state for the department, said it was “plain stupid”.

Ed Davey, the current Lib Dem deputy leader, served as energy secretary during the coalition years. He said at the time DECC’s demise was “a major setback for the UK’s climate change efforts”.

The promise to reestablish the department is expected to be in the Lib Dem general election manifesto.

Hobhouse said: “The planet is on the brink of being irreparably damaged and we are responsible.

“The UK should be leading the world in tackling the climate emergency and building a brighter future, but the Conservatives are failing to take the climate emergency seriously.

“The Tories have banned on-shore wind, slashed subsidies for solar power and brutally scrapped the vital Department for Climate Change.

“Their Brexit mess is persistently hindering and delaying Climate Action.

“The Liberal Democrats would undo the damage done. We would restore the Department on day one and ensure tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of Government.

She added: “We are the only party who have a clear, ambitious plan to cut harmful emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2045.

The Conservative government currently has an aim of reaching net zero by 2050. Labour’s conference in September committed the party to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, although the party’s election manifesto is yet to be finalised. 

Jonathan Bartley, the co-leader of the Green Party, predicted on Sunday morning his pary would secure the “biggest Green vote ever” on December 12. 

“I think at this election we’re seeing climate change right up there at the top of the agenda,” he told BBC 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.