Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg today proposed a package of green measures as his answer to the economic downturn. In his vision, dubbed the Green Road out of the Recession, he identifies a series of initiatives to decarbonise and stimulate growth in the UK economy, from building 40,000 zero-carbon social houses to reopening old railway lines and electrifying the Great Western and Midland mainlines.
Similar in principle to the Green New Deal called for by the New Economics Foundation and the UN, the Clegg plan claims it would create jobs and combat climate change. "These are real, achievable goals that would make a real difference to people's lives now, create new jobs today, and leave us with the infrastructure for a long-term, green economic recovery," he said.
The Lib Dems estimate the Green Road would cost £12.5bn, which they say would be funded by axeing the government's VAT cut. "Instead of a meaningless VAT cut that people won't notice," Clegg said, "we will insulate every school and hospital in the country and the homes of a million people languishing in fuel poverty."
Other ideas in the plan include insulation and energy efficiency funding for a million homes and a £1,000 subsidy for a further million households. The Lib Dem vision also backs the installation of smart meters in every home within five years, a more aggressive timeline than the current government plans which discuss a rollout between 2010 and 2020.
"Gordon Brown and David Cameron argue about whether we should borrow money or not. They are two dogs fighting over the wrong bone. The real question is what we borrow for and how we invest it so that we all benefit in the end," said Clegg.
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