Decision Time - Parties, Politics & Our Planet
by Helen Steiger
What's Going On Here?
Its the UK General Election next Thursday - when - if you are a registered voter - you have the power to decide who will run the UK government for the foreseeable future. With voters caring more about the environment than the economy, each party’s climate change and pollution policies are an important consideration when deciding who you will vote for...
What Does This Mean?
Brexit, the NHS, jobs and crime - these are all important factors which will inform which party or MP you vote for, but what promises have each party made regarding the environment, the climate emergency and in tackling our biodiversity crisis??
Here at Curious.Earth, we’ve done the research, the leg work, the hardcore grafting... so here’s a simple breakdown of what the main parties have promised in their manifestos and other media outlets regarding four important aspects of the green battle...
1. Climate what???
An easy way of judging the level of environmental commitment of each party is seeing where it is mentioned within the manifesto.
Conservatives - Page 43, with a further [but rather small] section close to the end.
Labour - Page 6, with full detail on their plans for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ in the subsequent section.
Liberal Democrats - Page 7, with a full section for ‘a Green Society and Green Economy’ detailing further plans later on in the manifesto.
Green - Page 1 and Pages 5-27 all detailing plans for ‘a Green New Deal’.
Curious CommentsThe Green Party is obviously committed to acting urgently on the environment (no surprise there) - but both Labour and the Lib Dems also clearly prioritise climate action within their manifesto. Try harder Tories...
2. Climate Emergency
So we’ve declared a Climate Emergency within the UK - but when has each party pledged to move the UK towards Net Zero carbon emissions?
Conservatives - 2050Labour - 2030Liberal Democrats - 2045Green - 2030
Curious CommentaryThe Conservatives have already pledged to go Net Zero by 2050 - and kudos to Theresa May for making this legally binding. However, other parties have since shifted this deadline forward with the need to drastically cut emissions much sooner than 2050.
3. Greening our countryside
We need to plant more trees to help with carbon sequestration and improve biodiversity. So, how many trees have each party said they’ll plant?
Conservatives - 30m a yearLabour - 100m a year (rising to 2bn by 2040)Liberal Democrats - 60m a yearGreen - 70m a year
Curious CommentaryThe Tories’ pledge is way behind the other parties, with Labour being particularly ambitious. However, the Lib Dems provide particularly helpful detail on how they support the improvement of water, air and soil quality as well as biodiversity, showing true commitment to a climate-friendly countryside.
4. A sustainable economy
And finally, what plans do each of the main parties have for transitioning towards a green economy?
Conservatives - timidly promise to continue investment in offshore wind farms. They also recently banned fracking (but pretty much temporarily…).Labour - promises a Green Industrial Revolution - financing the transition to clean energy, transport and improved biodiversity by the creation of a £250bn Transformation Fund.Liberal Democrats - pledge investment in renewable energy and more low-emission zones, arguing that a lot of the large-scale changes can be financed from the private sector.Green - meanwhile go to the opposite end of the spectrum, pledging to spend £100bn in green-ifying the UK.
Curious CommentaryThere’s an interesting divide between the Greens and Lib Dems on who should fund the transition - while Greens’ budget is a bit aspirational, is it similarly unrealistic for the Lib Dems to expect the private sector to finance most of the transition towards a sustainable economy? We were most disappointed with the Tories’ promises - simply market-friendly and no intent to solve the larger environmental issues at stake...
Why Should We Care?
Because, whether we like our politicians or not, they have a massive impact on the way we lead our lives, our power to act on issues we care about and the opportunities that are open to us. If system-change is what we need to fight this climate crisis, ensuring the powerful voices within society reflect our own values is vital to bring about the change we want!
Voting is our opportunity to have a real impact on our future - so whatever you do, make sure you vote next Thursday. 💪💪
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