There is a short ‘glossary’ near the end of the article to explain certain bits of jargon!
The public concern towards environmental issues are at a peak, and this is reflected in the manifestos of political parties, which have a heavier focus on environmental policies than those of previous years.
As manifestos are long and hard to navigate through, I have picked out relevant environmental information from the main parties of Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Green. To keep things concise, I have not included the DUP, SNP, and Plaid Cymru, although they do discuss environmental issues in their manifestos, so please read about it especially if you have the choice to vote for those parties. The objective of this article is to summarise the environmental policies and promises of the different political parties in a non-biased way. Please do keep in mind that the manifestos aim to appeal to the eco-conscious voters, and whether they actually deliver on their promises is uncertain for sure. It would definitely be great to do further research on the track record of the parties as well as the individual MPs you are voting for. The summary of proposed plans to target climate change are as follows:
Reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
In the Costing document it is said that there will be £640 million capital spending on Nature for Climate Fund over five-year period.
Support environmentally friendly homes that have low energy bills and line all new streets with trees.
Moratorium of fracking (a pause rather than a ban). The manifesto stated that the Conservatives “will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”
Support gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy, alongside increasing commitment to renewables. Aim for offshore wind industry to reach 40GW by 2030
Use the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to ask global partners to match the ambition of reaching zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050.
Set up new international partnerships to tackle deforestation.
Establish a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to help protect our oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing.
Extend the Blue Belt programme to preserve the maritime environment and lead diplomatic efforts to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
First Budget will prioritise the environment, with investment in R&D, decarbonisation schemes, electric vehicle infrastructure including a national plug-in network and Gigafactory, clean energy, and flood defences, which will receive a total of £4 billion in new funding.
Invest £800 million to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s and £500 million to help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques.
Help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals.
Support clean transport to ensure clean air, set strict new laws on air quality, and consult on phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars.
Green new deal: aiming to achieve the majority of emissions reductions by 2030 while delivering an economy that “serves the interests of the many, not the few”
Kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature.
Create a Sustainable Investment Board to bring together the Chancellor, Business Secretary and Bank of England Governor to oversee, co-ordinate and bring forward public and private investment. Change investment rule to ensure investment is compatible with environmental targets. £250 billion will directly fund the transition through a Green Transformation Fund dedicated to renewable and low-carbon energy and transport, biodiversity and environmental restoration.
Build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 onshore turbines, and solar panels spanning the equivalent of 22,000 football pitches.
Introduce a zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes.
Introduce a windfall tax on oil companies.
Increase the funding available for cycling and walking, bringing railways back into public ownership, and reinstating the 3,000 routes that have been cut. Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure and accelerate the transition of public sector car fleets and public buses to zero-emissions vehicles.
Introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones
Extra £5.6 billion in funding to improve the standard of flood defences and respond to the increased risk of flooding.
Support local food networks, and set maximum sustainable yields for all shared fish stocks
Make producers responsible for the waste they create and for the full cost of recycling or disposal.
Permanently ban fracking.
Set legally binding targets to drive the restoration of species and habitats.
Establish a new environmental tribunal to ensure that administrative decisions are consistent with environmental and nature-recovery obligations.
Get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030.
Meet most energy needs through the domestic production of renewable energy.
Plan to have a combined investment of over £100 billion a year in the Green New Deal.
Introduce new support for solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and other renewable energies to provide much of the remainder of the UK’s energy supply by 2030.
Spend £2.5 billion a year on new cycleways and footpaths, built using sustainable materials, such as woodchips and sawdust.
Remove subsidies to the oil and gas industries.
Invest £2 billion a year in training and skills (including new apprenticeships), to help people access the new, decent jobs created through the transition to a low carbon economy.
Prepare for the rapid decommissioning of North Sea oil rigs and the phasing out of the UK’s remaining coal plants and coal mines, ensuing a just transition for workers affected.
Support the transition to plant-based diets by phasing in a tax on meat and dairy products over the next ten years, to reduce the 5%
Apply a Carbon Tax on all fossil fuel imports and domestic extraction.
Expand and improve the electricity grid and expand short-term capacity for energy storage.
Plant 700 million trees and support sustainable food and farming systems and aim for 50% of all farms to be engaged in agroforestry by 2030.
Prohibit the construction of nuclear power stations. The green party has stated that nuclear is “a distraction from developing renewable energy”, and it carries “unacceptable risk for the communities living close to nuclear energy facilities”, “creates unmanageable quantities of radioactive waste” and is “linked with the production of world-destroying nuclear weapons.”
Ban advertising for flights and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights and stop building of new runways.
Ban fracking, and other unconventional forms of fossil fuel extraction
Reduce pesticide and fungicide use by at least 50% by overall weight by 2022.
‘Rewilding’ of spaces to provide new habitats for wildlife.
Require all companies registered in the UK and on UK stock exchanges to set targets consistent with the Paris Agreement on climate change and to report on their implementation; and establish a general corporate duty of care for the environment and human rights.
Regulate financial services to encourage green investments, including requiring pension funds and managers to show that their portfolio investments are consistent with the Paris Agreement
Establish a Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources and appoint a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury.
Guarantee an Office of Environmental Protection that is fully independent of government
Establish UK and local Citizens’ Climate Assemblies to engage the public in tackling the climate emergency.
Provide an additional £12 billion over five years to support renewable energy and aim to reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity in the UK by 2030.
Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard.
Cut energy bills, end fuel poverty by 2025 and reduce emissions from buildings.
Expand the market for green products and services with steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy.
End support from UK Export Finance for fossil fuel-related activities, and press for higher environmental standards for export credit agencies throughout the OECD.
Accelerate the rapid take-up of electric vehicles by reforming vehicle taxation, and invest in public transport, buses, trams and railways to enable people to travel more easily while reducing their impact on the environment.
Introduce a Nature Act to restore the natural environment through setting legally binding near-term and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, and supported by funding streams of at least £18 billion over five years.
Green new deal – principles to guide policy changes, with the aim of tackling climate change while creating new jobs and reducing social and economic inequalities.
Fracking – process of drilling into the earth and pumping with water and chemicals to extract natural gases. Disadvantages include the use huge amounts of water, causing earthquakes, release of methane, and severe contamination of water resources.
Blue Belt programme – programme supporting the UK government’s commitment to provide long term protection for the marine environment.
Once again, it is important to take the promises of the parties with a grain of salt, as there isn’t a system holding them responsible for delivering what they propose; nonetheless manifestos give a general insight to the goals of the party and how they try to deliver on them. Also, to achieve anything, there will be financial and opportunity costs, which are not mentioned in the manifestos; this is something else to be wary of.
Climate change and environmental issues are the most important issues of our generation, and therefore it definitely should be considered when casting your vote.