The British election is now only weeks away. As they say in the UK, “The Race For Number 10 Downing street” has almost hit full pelt, and its time to check in on what we could be in store for just around the corner. Here, David Saddington checks in on where the 7 main parties stand on Climate Change and Energy issues.
The UK sits within the recently proposed EU INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) A.K.A Emission Reduction targets of a 40% cut based on 1990 levels by 2030. These targets will be presented at the UN Paris conference later this year in which a global agreement on climate change issues will be sought.
The UK was also the first country in the world to set its own targets, of 80% reduction by 2050 set by the UK Climate Change Act 2008.
So we have a lot of work to do within the next few parliaments to meet these targets to limit climate change to 2 Degrees . But lets just see if our biggest political parties are ready for it?
UKIP: A Scorching 4 Degrees
Policies from the United Kingdom Independence Party put us on track for a woozly hot amount of planetary warming. But at least not meeting our carbon reduction targets wouldn’t be an issue as UKIP want to repeal the Climate Change Act and get rid of the Government Department for Climate Change and Energy.
The party’s energy spokesman Roger Helmer has previously claimed that the link between rising carbon dioxide levels and human activity is still “open to question”..and that “there hasn’t been any global warming for the last 18 years according to satellite data”. Who is he to comment on the validity of climate science you might ask? Well he claims not be an expert in the field and you can tell, as his views counter 97% of the scientific community.
UKIPs other environmental policies seek to abolish ‘green taxes’ and plough on with fracking. However if you’re a GCSE Geographer you’ll be happy as they pledge to protect that frequented school topic of the ‘Greenbelt’.
Conservatives: A Toasty 3 Degrees
Despite claims to be the “Greenest Government Ever” back at the last election the conservatives have not had a great track record over the past few years and their policies are riddled with hypocrisy and signs of internal party conflict.
Despite David Cameron talking the talk on climate change on the international stage his government has nationally side-lined climate change, cut Environment Agency funding, heavily cut back on energy efficiency measures, resisted measures to cut air pollution and promised to “go all out for shale”. Leading to criticism by Lid Dem coalition partner Ed Davey who said that a Conservative Government could weaken UK’s bid in the Paris deal.
On a marginally more positive note, the budget has brought forward some investment into flood defences as a reaction to the Somerset 2014 floods and opened consultation on the world’s largest tidal lagoon in Swansea.
2015 election party pledges include the cutting of subsidies for onshore wind turbines and to give local councils in England & Wales the power to have the ‘decisive say’ on turbines in their area. That’s pretty much it for green Conservative policy as the area has really taken a back seat and has been presented a luxury measure-rather than the necessity which it ought to be.
Labour: A Warm 2 Degrees
We’re back below that warming threshold that 2 C warming target that everyone is talking about as Labour propose some interesting ideas to tackle climate change and energy issues.
Labours policy in this area includes a focus on big energy companies and electricity generation. Fronted by Caroline Flint these policies outline a reduction of carbon emissions generated during electricity production to zero by 2030 and a freeze in gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017.
Nice targets but Labours war on the Big 6 energy companies could have longer term consequences. Energy company profits would likely fall with a price freeze and these companies would likely hold back investments into renewable technologies. This price-freeze although providing short term relief to fuel poverty could damage renewable investment. More work needs to be done on this policy in order to tackle the short term energy crisis but while still ensuring a renewable and stable energy future.
Viewers of Spring-watch will also be rejoicing as Labour pledge to end the badger cull, the controversial and un-resolved issue which has gripped middle England for the past few years.
Lid Dems: A Warm 2 Degrees With Chance of Rain
Despite taking a whack along with fellow coalition partner the Conservatives for poor environmental policies the Lib Dems have some very progressive policies for the 2015 election. But let’s hope we won’t be hearing Nick Clegg’s I’m Sorry Remix ft Climate Change Policy if the Libs do get their foot back in the door of Downing Street.
The Lib Dems main pledges are to double renewable electricity generation by 2020 and lead up to a zero carbon Britain by 2050. This puts us well inside of our Climate Change Act Targets.
The Lib Dems also pledge a charge for that infamous scurge of hedgerows everywhere-the plastic bag, plant 750,000 trees a year and promote electric cars.
Plaid Cymru: A Mild 1 Degrees
This Welsh party is one of the two political parties, of the 7 represented in the TV Debates, to oppose fracking. This bold environmental move gives Plaid Cymru lots of kudos amongst Welsh environmentalists along with their policies to introduce the Welsh Climate Change Act which will set Welsh specific targets. Along with these polices investment in renewable energy is also pledged.
SNP: A Mild 1 Degrees With Wind Chill
If they put any more wind turbines in Scotland it might just take off! Scotland is already surging ahead with renewables (46% of total electricity in 2013) and the Scottish National Party want to build on this success by pledging 80% of electricity from renewables by 2020.
The SNP also seek to electrify much of Scotland’s rail network to improve energy efficiency as well as speeding up travel. Planting trees and expanding marine carbon sinks are other initiatives which boost the SNP green credentials.
The policy not to invest in any new nuclear power stations will divide environmentalists but this sits alongside the SNP pledge for denuclerization by ditching Trident and nuclear reprocessing plants. These policies certainly look very progressive and on track to limit the impacts of climate change.
The Green Party: Very British Weather
The Green Party would have been doing something wrong if they didn’t top this round up of Climate Change policy. As predicted the Greens have the most progressive and bold manifesto.
Pledging a whopping emissions cut to only 10% of 1990 levels by 2030 and phasing out fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation are priorities. Investments in flood defences, insulation grants and renewables are high on the agenda.
The Greens also actively oppose fracking, and not just in parliament as Caroline Lucas, Green MP was arrested at a fracking protest at Balcombe, West Sussex, in 2013.
Climate change issues are crucial for this election as representatives from the winning party (or parties) will head to UN negotiations in Paris this December and either help to forge a strong climate change or weaken it.
Source: Party manifestos &BBC Manifesto Guide