Thanks to Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election, three years ahead of schedule, I have to leave the lovely world of hedgehogs, dormice and baby birds to delve into the murky world of politics. Over the next week, I’ll try to summarise where the major UK parties stand on various environmental issues, based on their published manifestos.
I’m starting this series with the biggest challenge facing our generation: climate change. Where we mark our X on the ballot paper next week will have big implications not just for the next five years, but for much longer. And there’s a real difference between the parties on this issue as well.
Climate change is a huge issue, and overlaps with many other areas of policy. I’ve split up each party’s position into a few headings, to make it easier to follow:
- Targets & commitments
- Power generation
- Britain’s place in the world response to climate change
- Science & industry
NB. I’m not going to report on all of their policies related to homes / transport etc – just those they link to carbon emissions or climate change.
The manifestos of the parties varied greatly in length, meaning some give much more detail than others. I didn’t ask them for further information, or search their websites. Having said that, the longer manifestos didn’t always mean more information about how they were going to achieve their stated goals.
The following tables are, I hope, an accurate reflection of what the parties say in their manifesto. Of course, we all know that manifesto promises don’t always materialise, but, without a crystal ball, the best we can judge parties on is their prior actions and what they say they will do in the future. Click on the tables to see them full size.
I’ve tried to be fairly neutral in my reporting of what the parties say, and you can draw your own conclusions. But since it’s my blog, I thought I’d add a few of my reflections, which you can ignore if you want to.
- The Tories provide very little detail about what they will actually do to combat climate change. They don’t spell out what their power generation mix will be, but their support for shale gas shows that they just haven’t got the idea that fossil fuels are not the way forward. They pay lip service to our carbon reduction obligations, but provide no info on how they will meet them. They even try to claim credit for the Climate Change Act that was introduced by the Labour government in 2008.
- Some of the parties refer to climate in change in many different sections of their manifesto, showing that they get that this issue is not just about power supplies, but will reflect many aspects of our life.
- Some of the parties (Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, SNP) present a clear vision of how they see Britain playing a role internationally, – I found this quite inspiring.
- Some of the parties (Labour, Lib Dems, SNP) presented the climate change challenge as an opportunity to develop new technology, industries, exports and jobs in the UK.
- A vote for UKIP is a vote for climate catastrophe.
- The Green Party manifesto was about a quarter of the length of some of the others, so inevitably has less detail. I’m not sure how the Tories managed to write 88 pages while saying so little about what they will actually do. Labour and the Lib Dems both have quite long, detailed manifestos.