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East of England Conference 2018 policy motions

The motions below were submitted for possible debate at East of England Conference on Saturday 20 October. The conference committee has selected motion A for debate. There will be a consultation session on Climate Change and the Low Carbon Economy during which the issues covered by motion B can be raised.

The deadline for submission of amendments to motions was Friday 5 October at 5pm. No amendments were submitted.

If you have a great idea for a future conference motions but need some help pulling it together please contact Daniel Norton, the Regional Policy Chair. He's always looking for new ideas and opportunities to engage with members across the region to develop policy. Contact him on daniel@eastlibdems.org.uk.

Motion A: Moving from the new timetable fiasco to an integrated East of England railway infrastructure

Conference notes with concern

A: Significant delays caused by the introduction of the new timetable across the Govia Thameslink network in May, which is now not expected to be fully delivered before December.

B: The impact of the delay and uncertainty on people's work and home lives, including their ability to get to work on time and make childcare arrangements.

C: The removal of peak time intercity trains to Bedford and Luton by East Midlands Trains and introduction of replacement bus service to stations north of Bedford, compounding the insult of the poor Thameslink service on commuters.

D: The government's decision to remove the requirement for Bedford to be served by intercity trains in the tender for the new East Midlands rail franchise.

E: That work on Phase 2 of the Western Section of East West Rail between Oxford and Bedford is underway, but uncertainty remains on the route and timeline for delivery of the Central Section to Cambridge.

F: The need for the infrastructure upgrades to deliver the Eastern Sections to fully realise the potential of connections through to Ipswich and Norwich.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to

(i) Implementing 'Zero Carbon Britain' by 2050 - requiring a significant upgrade in public transport infrastructure and capacity, including the electrification of railways.

(ii) Improving rail connectivity across the East of England region to support new jobs and housing and be a catalyst for regeneration of towns along the route.

(iii) Building critical infrastructure ahead of demand, to support the increase in housebuilding expected across the region.

Conference calls for

1. The Transport Secretary to be held to account for his department and Network Rail's failings in the introduction of the Govia Thameslink timetable.

2. Immediate resumption of peak intercity services on East Midland Trains calling at Luton and Bedford which would partially mitigate the impact of the botched timetable implementation.

3. Protection of a full intercity service at Bedford (Midland) in future franchises, as a key interchange with East West Rail and Thameslink.

4. Full electrification of the Midland Mainline north of Kettering to avoid wasted investment in hybrid trains.

5. Commitment to the Central section of East West Rail to be made soon, to give businesses and the public certainty and enable delivery by the mid-2020s.

This policy builds on the 'East West Rail' motion passed at 2015 regional conference [PDF] in support of the scheme.

Motion B: Controlling the effect of UK aviation on climate change

Conference notes with concern

A. The Department for Transport (DfT) currently has a phased consultation on Aviation Strategy to 2050 that proposes large increases in flying, with climate change only an afterthought. This is incompatible with UK commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act (CCA).

B. In 2015, aviation was 8% of UK CO2 emissions. However, non-CO2 emissions greatly increase the effect on climate change (see www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-challenge-tackling-aviation-non-co2-emissions).

C. Between 2015 and 2050, the strategy envisages an aviation increase of about two-fold. Aircraft efficiency is improving about 1% a year, so emissions would increase by about 1.4-fold.

D. The CCA commits the UK to reducing total UK emissions by about three-fold between now and 2050. Technically the Act excludes international aviation but, quite logically, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) includes it. If, instead of reducing by three-fold, aviation increases by 1.4-fold, then aviation would take about 33% of total CO2 permitted by law. Non-CO2 effects would greatly increase this. To meet 2050 commitments, the CCC says that, provided other sectors over-deliver, aviation might be permitted 25% of all UK emissions, and they emphasise this big gap.

E. Configuring an aircraft to have fewer premium seats would enable each flight to carry more passengers, thus reducing CO2. The CO2 attributable to a passenger depends directly on the cabin area associated with that seat. On long haul, which generates more than half of UK aviation's CO2, business and first class seats are responsible for about three times and five times more cabin area respectively than economy, causing increases in CO2.

F. Frequent flyer clubs encourage more (and higher-class) flying in order to earn points. This is especially pernicious for business flying where the employer pays for the tickets and the employee gets the benefits. Many of the resulting highly subsidised flights would either not have taken place, or have been in a lower class.

G. The industry says that, from 2020 onwards, it will stop its carbon footprint rising by buying carbon offsets. There are unlikely to be enough certified projects, and their price will be high.

H. Liberal Democrats are committed to reduce GHG emissions towards zero

Conference believes

i) The projected emissions are unacceptable, and must be reduced.

ii) Air Passenger Duty should be replaced by either an aviation fuel tax, or a flight tax based on take-off weight and distance flown. The tax should be at least equivalent to that on petrol and diesel.

iii) The operation of frequent flyer clubs for both incoming and outgoing flights should be heavily discouraged or banned.

iv) Airlines should be forced to make clear, when booking and on all boarding cards, the carbon footprint of the flight and seat class.

v) Less flying should be encouraged by publicising (a) that flying in premium seats causes large increases in emissions, (b) the anti-social nature of unnecessary flying, such as longhaul short holidays, and (c) the benefits of teleconferencing.

vi) Actual emissions should be assessed before mitigation possibilities are considered.

Conference calls on the government to

1. Replace DfT's current consultation with one that considers climate change early.

2. Ask the CCC to study the science of aviation's effects on climate.

3.Tax all aviation, either with a fuel tax or a flight tax, at a level at least equivalent to that on petrol and diesel.

4. Consider banning the operation of frequent flyer clubs for flights from and to the UK.

5. Hold a consultation on the maximum aviation emissions to be permitted.

6. Assess actual emissions before considering mitigation possibilities such as carbon offsets.

7. Publicise ways the public can reduce aviation emissions, and force airlines to make clear, when booking and on boarding cards, the carbon cost of the flight and seat class.

8. Coordinate aviation policies with the EU and internationally, but, if necessary, not be afraid of unilateral action.

Useful links