General Election June 2017

The intentions of the leading UK political parties regarding Climate Change, Energy transition and Air Quality in their 2017 manifestos are investigated. Includes an update on 10th June on the DUP manifesto.  

The conclusion from searching for clear policies that will reduce greenhouse gases and remove air pollution – even to the level of our Paris promises and UK Climate Change Act – is that there is high level of rhetoric. Some parties have some more detail than others, but they don’t inspire confidence that we are working towards a low carbon UK.

  • Quick update on DUP matters since their new role in UK Government. 1. Greenpeace’s conclusion on the DUP approach to the Environment.  “In December, then Environment minister Michelle Mcllveen blocked attempts to  introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act.”

    2. An indicative DUP approach, reported in the Irish News, is that of the botched non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme that has been simmering on for months. Called ‘Cash for Ash‘ the basis of the scheme was paying “£1.60 – Amount available in subsidy to RHI claimants for every £1 of wood pellets burnt,”  A scheme designed to enrich participants and not help the environment.

  • Note 1 – for our Paris commitments, the UKs Nationally Determined Contribution, lodged on 18/11/2016 is just a copy of the EU combined Interim NDC of the 06/03/2015/. No proposals to submit our own in preparation for Brexit have been mentioned in the manifestos.

    Note 2 – for our Climate Change Act obligations, the Committee on Climate Change says that with current policies, we will only make half the emissions cuts we need by 2030. The manifestos have not referenced the CCC’s recommendations for the policies we need now.

    Note 3 – for the air pollution crisis, the manifestos (apart from the Lib Dems) did not lay out the policies required by the High Court following Client Earth’s action to comply with minimum air quality standards.

    For suggested hustings questions see the Campaign against Climate Change’s questions.

  • if the current rate of emissions continues, the 1.5C budget would be used up sometime
                                                                            in 2021

    – ie before this Parliament ends,  according to Carbon Brief.

      Carbon Brief – Only Five Years Left Before One Point Five C budget is blown as at May 19th 2016.

    Greenhouse Gas Emission (GHG) is the elephant in the UK 2017 election – rarely spoken of as the world ambles towards Climate Change consequences. The lower odds of a nuclear war, bad trade deals and care costs in old age take up acres of media attention, whilst the high odds of damage to our planet take up almost none. 

The Manifestos for the UK 2017 General election

Conservative Party
Green Party 
Labour Party 
Liberal Democrat Party
UKIP Party

and DUP and SNP

Every UK party – except UKIP – have said that they support the Paris agreement and the UK Climate Change Act. Note that the Nationally Determined Contribution submitted by the UK (NDC) is actually the overarching EU INDC (Interim), which is expected to be superceded with improved UK specific contributions.

The UN registry of Paris Agreement has signatories from every country to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions – with the exception of Nicaragua and Syria. Even North Korea and Libya have managed to sign, but Donald Trump intends to cease US participation in the process.

Conservative Party
“….we will continue to take a lead in global action against climate change, as the government demonstrated by ratifying the Paris Agreement. We were the first country to introduce a Climate Change Act, which Conservatives helped to frame, and we are halfway towards meeting our 2050 goal of reducing emissions by eighty per cent from 1990 levels.” (p40)

Green Party
“…Strengthen the global deal on climate change, including by delivering climate justice and promoting ecologically sustainable development so that poorer countries can cope with the impacts of climate change” (p19)

Labour Party
We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce emissions while mitigating the impacts of climate change on developing countries.” (p118)

We are committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons, which can help create manufacturing and energy jobs as well as contributing to climate change commitments. (p21)

A Labour government will put us back on track to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement. (p22)

Liberal Democrat Party
We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change” (p11)

 “Support the Paris agreement by ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in international efforts to combat climate change” (p48)

“….place a responsibility on every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets in everything it does“(p54)

Provide greater resources for international environmental co-operation, particularly on climate change..…..”. (p85)

UKIP Party
We will repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act, the most expensive piece of legislation in history. This will cut the cost of energy in our homes and encourage energy-intensive businesses that are failing because of flawed energy policies…..”…. “We will also withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, to enhance our industrial competitiveness” (intro)

the 2008 Climate Change Act. Set to cost us an eye-watering £319 billion by 2030, this Act has no basis in science, and its aim of cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 is unachievable.” (p56)

(note Carbons Briefs Dec 2016 expose of the basis of UKIPs ‘fake news’ of a cost of averting Climate Change.)

But the proof is in the pudding. The Committee on Climate Change says that with current policies, we will only make half the emissions cuts we need by 2030. So what actions are the parties promising that will be the UKs contribution to Greenhouse Gas reductions and comply with the UK Climate Change Act?

  • Conservative Party
    Energy priorities:  “Our ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses…….” “an independent review into the Cost of Energy, which will be asked to make recommendations as to how we can ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible, while ensuring a reliable supply and allowing us to meet our 2050 carbon reduction objective..…” (p22)

    Green Party
    Energy priorities:Replacing fracking, coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.” …..(P7)”Bring energy, water, railways, buses, the Royal Mail and care work back into public ownership to give communities real control of the public services that has been lost over the past 30 years“(p11)

     

    Labour Party

    Energy priorities: Take energy back into public ownership to deliver renewable energy, affordability for consumers, and democratic control (p20)

     

    Energy Jobs:We are committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons, which can help create manufacturing and energy jobs as well as contributing to climate change commitments.”(p21)

     

    Liberal Democrat Party

    Energy priorities: “Expand renewable energy, aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restoring government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations (helping meet climate targets at least cost) and building more electricity interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables“(p49)

     

    Energy Jobs and Training: “Develop national colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy....” (p41)….”bring more private investment into renewable energy” (p37)

     

    UKIP Party
    Energy priorities: “...support a diverse energy market based on coal, nuclear, shale gas, conventional gas, oil, solar and hydro, as well as other renewables when they can be delivered at competitive prices…” (intro)

The Conservative and UKIP parties emphasise costs and prices above GHG reduction commitments (which UKIP openly reject)

The Labour and Lib Dem parties emphasise the jobs and training opportunities of renewables.

  • Conservative Party
    Oil and Gas:  “We will continue to support the [north sea] industry and build on the unprecedented support already provided to the oil and gas sector...” (p22)

    Fracking “…..develop the shale industry in Britain. We will only be able to do so if we maintain public confidence in the process, if we uphold our rigorous environmental protections, and if we ensure the proceeds of the wealth generated by shale energy are shared with the communities affected……”

    Green Party
    Oil and Gas: no mention found

    Fracking:Replacing fracking, coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.” (P7)

     

    Labour Party

    Oil and Gas: no mention found

     

    Fracking: “Labour will ban fracking because it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline.” (P21)

     

    Liberal Democrat Party

    Oil and Gas: no mention found

     

    Fracking:Oppose ‘fracking’ because of its adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.”(p49)

     

    UKIP Party
    Oil and Gas: supported

     

    Fracking: “..fossil fuel cost and distribution can be severely affected by international conflict…… UKIP will invest in shale gas exploration. If ‘fracking’ is viable in Britain…..” P57 (not National Parks)

According to the Campaign against Climate ChangeFracking at any significant scale would harm the UK’s chance of keeping within its carbon budgets”

The Conservative and UKIP support oil, gas and fracking. Co-incidentally the conservatives receive significant funding from oil bosses, according to the Guardian 23/05/17.

The Green, Labour and Lib Dem parties do not mention specific plans for oil and gas and would ban fracking.

  • Conservative Party
    Onshore and Offshore Wind: “…. we will maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind and support the development of [onshore] wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland, where they will directly benefit local communities.(p22)

    Solar and renewables: nothing found

    Green Party
    Energy Sources:Replacing……………….. with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.” (P7)

    Wind and Solar: – nothing found

     

    Labour Party

    Renewable energy: We will transform our energy systems, investing in new, state of-the-art low-carbon gas and renewable electricity production…..(p11)   …..ensure that 60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 (p14)……  “We are committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons, which can help create manufacturing and energy jobs as well as contributing to climate change commitments.” (p21)

     

    Wind and Solar: – nothing found

     

    Liberal Democrat Party

    Energy Sources: “Expand renewable energy, aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restoring government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations (helping meet climate targets at least cost) and building more electricity interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables“(p49)

     

    Energy Jobs and Training: “Develop national colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy....” (p41)….”bring more private investment into renewable energy” (p37)

     

    Solar, Wind and more: “restoring government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations”(p49)… “Support investment in cutting-edge technologies including energy storage, smart grid technology, hydrogen technologies, offshore wind, and tidal power”(p49)

     

    UKIP Party
    Wind and Solar: “..Remove taxpayer-funded subsidies from unprofitable wind and solar schemes as soon as contractual arrangements expire…” (p57)

Though the Green Party and Labour party supported renewables as such, they did not mention solar or wind, whereas the Liberal Democrats supported these specifically. Both Labour and Lib Dems supported Tidal Lagoon energy and the job opportunities from renewable energy. UKIP would act against Wind and Solar ‘subsidies’.

The Conservatives supported onshore wind – but offshore only in remote Scotland.

Labour promised to aim at 60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 , whereas Lib Dems promised to aim at 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030.

But compare 2030 with the urgency in Carbon Briefs countdown.

  • Conservative Party
    Nuclear: only mentioned in the context of protection of critical infrastructure

    Green Party
    Replacing …….. subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy...” (p7)

     

    Labour Party

    Nuclear: “…..nuclear will continue to be part of the UK energy supply. We will support further nuclear projects….(p21)…”Labour will also retain access to Euratom, to allow continued trade of fissile material, with access and collaboration over research vital to our nuclear industry.” (p22)

     

    Liberal Democrat Party

    Nuclear:Accept that new nuclear power stations can play a role in electricity supply provided concerns about safety, disposal of waste and cost are adequately addressed, new technology is incorporated, and there is no public subsidy for new build”….. “Maintain membership of Euratom, ensuring continued nuclear co-operation, research funding, and access to nuclear fuels” (p49)

     

    UKIP Party
    Nuclear:  is only mentioned as a weapon.

The Labour and Lib Dem parties would support new Nuclear power capacity.

The Liberal Democrats want to stay within Eurotom when the UK leaves the EU, despite the conservative government believing that this will not happen, according to the Guardian in Jan 2017.

The Greens would remove subsidies to Nuclear.

The Conservatives only mention that they would protect Nuclear as critical infrastructure, whilst UKIP only mention Nuclear as weapons.

  • Conservative Party
    We will improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, especially for the least well off, by committing to upgrading all fuel poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030. We will also review requirements on new homes.”(p60)

    Green Party

    Energy Reduction: A public works programme of insulation to make every home warm (p17)

     

    Labour Party

    “….will insulate more homes to help people manage the cost of energy bills, to reduce preventable winter deaths, and to meet our climate change targets…” (P60)

     

    Liberal Democrat Party

    “…. will reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes.”(p49) …”Ensuring that four million properties receive insulation retrofits by 2022, prioritising fuel-poor households”  (p47)

     

    UKIP Party

    No references found

The Green party would make every home warm, whilst the Lib Dems would insulate 4million homes, the Labour party ‘more’ homes.

The Conservatives would upgrade ‘fuel poor’ homes – but only by 2030. (note urgency of GHG reductions in Carbon Brief schematic)

UKIP have no mention of energy reduction schemes.

  • Conservative Party and UKIP Party
    Trees: “We will take action against poor air quality in urban areas. In addition to the 11 million trees we are planting across our nation, we will ensure that 1 million more are planted in our towns and cities…” (p25)

    no other reference to Air Quality found in the manifesto

    Green Party
    Clean Air Act “…. create a new Clean Air Act, expanding and funding a mandatory clean air zone network.” (p7)

    Labour Party
    Clean Air Act: Introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Conservative legacy of illegal air quality. (P93)

    Liberal Democrat Party
    Clean Air: Preventing 40,000 deaths a year with our Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution.(p47)

Labour and Greens would introduce a new Clean Air Act, and the Liberal Democrats have an Air Quality Plan. See the proposed bill.

The Conservatives see Air Quality in terms of trees (despite undergoing legal action for breaking EU Air Quality laws).

UKIP have no mention of air quality improvements.

  • Conservative Party
    Clean Vehicles:We will spend more on research and development, to turn brilliant discoveries into practical products and transform the world’s industries – such as the batteries that will power a new generation of clean, efficient, electric vehicles…” (p19)

    Green Party
    Clean Vehicles:Help end the public health crisis caused by air pollution by increasing incentives to take diesel vehicles off the roads” (p23)

    Introduce a one-off fine on car manufacturers who cheated the emissions testing regime….. (p7)

    Labour Party
    Clean VehiclesWe will retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards“. (P91)

    Liberal Democrat Party
    Clean Vehicles:A diesel scrappage scheme, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025. ● Extending ultra-low-emission zones to 10 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. We will also reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.“(p48)

    UKIP Party
    No reference to Air Quality

The Liberal Democrats have a comprehensive set of promises to replace ‘dirty’ vehicles with ‘clean’, and the Green party promises to tackle ‘dirty’ vehicles. Labour only mentions ‘dirty’ buses.

The Conservatives see the topic in terms of big business opportunities, whereas UKIP make no mention.

  • Conservative Party
    Airports:“We will deliver the infrastructure – the….. airports….. – that businesses need.” (P19)”.…..strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport” (p23)  “…..we will use technology to manage our airspace better to reduce noise pollution and improve capacity…” (p81)

    Green Party
    “Cancel all airport expansion and end subsidies on airline fuel.” (p23)

    Labour Party
    Airports: “…..guarantee that any airport expansion adheres to our tests that require noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, the UK’s climate change obligations met and growth across the country supported..” (p92) ….”…consult on establishing an environmental tribunal with simplified procedures to hear challenges to unlawful government decisions, like those made on the air quality strategy, without engaging in prohibitively expensive processes….“(p81)

    Liberal Democrat Party

    Airports:Develop a strategic airports policy for the whole of the UK, taking full account of the impacts on climate change and local pollution. We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary and will focus instead on improving existing regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester. We will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK.” (p63)

     

    UKIP Party
    UKIP is delighted a £100 million investment plan to revive aviation at Manston Airport in Kent……. continue to support the expansion of smaller regional airports. ” P51

    “….seek to reduce it [air passenger duty] with the long-term objective of scrapping it completely.” (p51)

According to the Campaign against Climate Change. there is no evidence that Heathrow expansion can be built without overspending on the UK’s carbon budgets.

The Conservatives see airport expansion as necessary for business opportunities, and Heathrow as a ‘great project’ whereas UKIP supports increased flying but from expanded regional airports.

The Greens oppose all airport expansion,  the Liberal Democrats oppose airport expansion in the south and Labour promises careful consideration, including air quality, before proceeding.