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.


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Contribution submitted by the UK (NDC) is actually the overarching EU INDC (Interim), which is expected to be superceded with improved UK specific contributions.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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.