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Green policies: How do the parties compare?

Over the last few elections, green policy has become a serious election issue. What was once a niche concern confined to a small base of largely left wing ecologists is now a popular issue across the political spectrum.

In many ways, this election has seen other issues pushed to the fore at the expense of green policies in campaigning. This campaign has not seen a Tory candidate pledge to run the greenest government in history, or a surge in support for the Greens, as past elections have. Nevertheless, the focus on green policy has perhaps been highlighted in a bizarre way by the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris Agreement. This election also comes at a crossroads for green solutions, as businesses embrace low-carbon and renewable technology and renewable energy solutions are becoming the legitimate market option.

So far in this campaign (and there aren’t many campaigning days left) we’ve not heard enough about green energy from the parties. There have been a few questions in debates, a few public statements, and, while there are significant manifesto sections, the campaigns have focussed on more general tax and spending issues, as well as Brexit and the NHS. Below is a summary of each party’s environmental policies.

The Conservatives

  • £40bn investment this decade on transport improvements, including significant rail improvements in the north of England.
  • Rail ticket prices to be made easier to understand
  • Expanded rail capacity
  • Drilling for natural gas from shale to be introduced
  • £600 million investment in zero emission cars and vans, aiming for almost every vehicle to be zero emissions by 2050
  • A 25 Year Environmental Plan, designed to leave the environment and countryside in a better state than it is now after Brexit
  • Great Repeal Bill to make EU environmental protections UK law the moment we leave the EU
  • Continuing to be part of the Paris Agreement, and actively engaging with the UNFCCC
  • The 0.7% of GBP foreign aid budget to be retained

Labour

  • Insulation for 4 million homes
  • Fracking for natural gas from shale to be banned
  • Investment in carbon capture and storage technologies
  • ‘Protection’ for North Sea oil assets
  • A commitment to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons
  • A Clean Air Act, which will tackle air pollution
  • A series of plastic bottle deposit schemes
  • One million new trees to be planted
  • The 0.7% of GDP foreign aid budget to be retained
  • Continuing to be part of the Paris Agreement, and actively engaging with the UNFCCC

Lib Dems

  • Create new tests for foreign aid, which include environmental considerations
  • A Green Transport Act, along with an Air Quality Plan, to reduce air pollution and emissions
  • A desal scrappage scheme
  • Extending Ultra-Low Emission Zones to ten more towns and cities.
  • All private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low emission or zero emission fuels within five years.
  • Vehicle taxation to be reformed to encourage electric vehicles, and new electric car infrastructure to be built
  • A Zero Carbon Britain Act to set legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2040 and to zero by 2050.
  • A British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise investment into low carbon and sustainable infrastructure
  • Expanded renewable energy production, aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, supporting solar PV and onshore wind
  • Fracking for natural gas from shale to be banned
  • A Green Buildings Act to set new energy efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035.
  • Maintain membership of Euratom, ensuring continued nuclear co-operation, research funding, and access to nuclear fuels.
  • The 0.7% of GDP foreign aid budget to be retained
  • Continuing to be a part of the Paris Agreement, and actively engaging with the UNFCCC

UKIP

  • Prioritise brownfield rather than greenfield or agricultural land for new housing
  • Support for farming and wildlife though grant schemes prioritising the preservation of natural habitats
  • Match fund grants made by local authorities for rural capital projects which enhance the local environment or help recovery from environmental disasters
  • Protect dolphins by banning the use of pair trawling for sea bass
  • Offer local referenda to overturn unpopular development approvals
  • Reduce the 0.7% of GDP foreign aid budget
  • To leave the Paris Agreement

The Greens

  • Replace coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with renewable energy
  • An Environmental Protection Act to safeguard environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection
  • Improved insulation for every home
  • Create initiatives and cooperate with industry to limit global temperature increases to well below two degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees
  • Fracking for natural gas from shale to be banned
  • Create a new Clean Air Act, targeting air pollution
  • Strong protection for the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Introduction of deposit return schemes, with a zero-waste target
  • Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 1.0% of GDP
  • Strengthen the Paris Agreement, including by delivering climate justice and promoting ecologically sustainable development so poorer countries can cope with the impacts of climate change, through active engagement with the UNFCCC
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