Swing the Vote and Swing the Planet

Who will sit in the House of Commons following the 7th May?

In a recent BBC News article, readers were treated to a summary of where each of the seven front-running political parties stands on key UK issues: immigration; taxes and the economy; the NHS; security, defence and foreign affairs; jobs; education; housing; law and order and benefits. All critical issues, of course, but I can’t help wondering how the environment managed to slip off the radar.

In the article, in the TV debates, on Question Time and throughout the election campaigns, climate change seems surprisingly sidelined. This seems problematic given the indisputable evidence that humans are causing the climate to warm and the terrifying consequences that this will bring in terms of increases in the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, need for great sacrifices as we adapt to this change and the potential implications for all of the chosen issues addressed by that BBC article.

With just twelve days until the voting slips are in, it seems like a good time to delve into the manifestos of each party and see where the future state of our environment may soon be driven.

The full details of each party’s environmental-related policies can be seen on their websites, but here I present a condensed version of the key policies from each of the seven principal parties.

The Conservative Party

Energy

Invest in renewable technologies research

Prevent further spread of onshore wind farms, end public subsidy for wind farms and allow local people the final say on local applications

Press for a global climate deal in the UNFCCC Convention that is in line with ensuring a 2oC maximum temperature increase

Cost effective emissions reduction

Transport

Build new roads and railways that, as far as possible, minimise environmental impact

£300 million towards reduction in light pollution from new roads, more tunnelling and noise barriers

Lost habitat during the High Speed 2 construction will be restored

All cars and vans to have zero emissions by 2050, supported by a £500 million investment over the next five years

£200 million to make cycling safer

Animal Welfare

Ban wild animals from circuses

Insist an EU-wide enforcement of high welfare standards for slaughterhouses

Press for international states to ban animal testing in cosmetics and develop alternative testing procedures

While ensuring proper regulation for slaughter of livestock and poultry, religious slaughter techniques will be protected

Encourage end of international poaching of animals such as rhinos, elephants and tigers

Maintain global ban on commercial whaling and tighten regulation of international shark finning

Measures to conserve global tuna stocks

Press for ban on sale of ivory and assist India in effort to protect the Asian elephant

Ensure endangered species status for polar bears, ban trade of their skins and draw further attention to impact on wildlife and habitats in polar regions

Protect hunting, shooting and fishing

Parliament will be given the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act

Climate Change Adaptation

Improve flood defences and capped cost of flood insurance

1,400 new flood defence schemes

Aid poorest in the adaptation to climate change

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Twenty-five year plan to buy and sell more British food

Take science-led approach to genetically modified crops and pesticide

Continue to implement twenty-five year strategy to tackle bovine TB

Reform fishing quota to ensure sustainability and prevent discarding of edible fish

Natural Environment in the UK

Over the next five years, invest £3 billion in enhancing England’s countryside

Promote clean up of waterbodies, maintain stonewalls and hedges and protect bee populations

Ensure continued public ownership of forests and woodland

Plant 11 million trees

Provide free, comprehensive maps of all open access green space

Enforce 5p per plastic bag

Review case for higher Fixed Penalty notices for littering

Fixed penalties for small scale fly tipping

Pocket parks launched within urban areas

Protect green belt and maintain Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other environmental designations

Tackle air pollution

Natural Capital Committee to assess value of environment in economic terms

Twenty-five year plan to restore UK’s biodiversity

Blue belt for UK coasts and overseas territories

The Green Party

Energy

EU legal obligations to cut emissions by > 90% by 2030 from 1990 levels

Ban European sale of fuel from most polluting areas e.g. Canadian tar sands

Contest fracking and other extreme fuels

Replace EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Prevent fuel extraction that exceeds the coping capacity of the atmosphere

Invest in infrastructure required for a zero emission economy

Increase price of carbon and reduce its fluctuations

Further limit cap and carbon allowances

Back global sharing of intellectual property for technology

Oppose deep sea oil drilling and development of nuclear power stations

Source 45% of European energy from renewable by 2030 and 100% by 2050

Increase EU funding of renewable energy

Encourage low carbon cities and towns

Transport

Improve accessibility and infrastructure for walking and cycling

Prioritise investments in local transport infrastructure over airports and roads

Tighter regulation of vehicles

Animal Welfare

Enforce high standards of animal welfare

CCTV in all slaughter houses

Ban farm animal cloning and non-medical animal testing

Band on animals in circuses, travelling menageries and exhibitions

Climate Change Adaptation

Flood prevention measures across the river basin

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Provide alternatives to soybeans and palm oils

Ban on genetically modified food

Encourage pollinator friendly agriculture

Reduction in pesticide usage

Half volume of food waste

Overfishing prevented by 2018 through the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy

Lead in global ocean restoration and manage EU fish stocks following scientific recommendations

Ban on deep sea trawling

Natural Environment in the UK

Restrict industrial production of toxic and hazardous wastes, to be eliminated 2020

Ban dumping on surface, seas and rivers

Promote circular waste management

Strengthen Habitats Directive

The Labour Party

Energy

Remain committed to ambitious, legally binding targets for carbon reduction at home

Press for global targets abroad, moving us towards zero net global emissions

Push for an ambitious agreement on climate change at UNFCCC conferences in December

Push the case for ambitious emission targets for all countries

Progress towards 2oC goal

Push for net zero global emissions for the second half of this century

Transparent and universal rules for measuring verifying and reporting emissions and for equitable deal in which richer countries provide support for poorer nations in combating climate change

Create an Energy Security Board to plan and deliver the energy mix we need including renewable, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage and clean coal

Establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime before extraction of onshore unconventional oil and gas

Safeguard the offshore oil and gas industry, which will include more certain tax rates and greater carbon storage

Transport

Provide more public control in public transport sector

Promote cycling

Balance the need for growth and the environmental impact as regards to airport expansion following the Davies Review

Animal Welfare

We will build on our strong record on animal welfare

Ban badger cull

Improve protection of dogs and cats

Ban wild animals in circuses

Defend hunting ban

Deal with wildlife crime associated with shooting

Climate Change Adaptation

Produce ambitious adaptation programme

New infrastructure commission will prioritise investment in flood prevention

Expand role of he Department of International Development to mitigate the risk of a changing climate and support sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Create world leading food farm and fisheries sectors

Promote best of British produce and expand role of supermarkets watchdog

Protect food produces from unfair practices by major supermarkets

Natural Environment in the UK

Air pollution – more powers for local authorities

Keep forests in public ownership

Promote access to green spaces

Support work of natural capital committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces

The Liberal Democrat Party

Energy

Renewable energy will make up over a third of our electricity by 2020

Cut council tax for green homes by at least £100 a year for ten years

Invest in research and development in cleaner energy

Force energy companies to let customers switch suppliers within twenty-four hours

Get rid of coal power within ten years

Every home properly insulated by 2035

Be as close to zero carbon as possible by 2050

Getting rid of coal power generation by 2025

250,000 low carbon jobs by 2020

Electricity Demand reduction market

Market shaping energy efficiency standards

Minimum of £100 billion more private investment in low carbon energy infrastructure by 2020

Legally binding decarbonisation for 2030 for power sectors of 50–100g of CO2 per kWh

Expansion of renewable, making up 60% electricity by 2030

Carbon capture and storage technology for all new gas stations built after 2030

Encourage onshore wind in appropriate locations

Assess role of new nuclear power stations in low carbon electricity production

Reform EU policies on use of biofuels and biogas that drive deforestation e.g. crop based

Encourage growth of anaerobic digestion to produce biogas for heat and transport and sustainable fertiliser

Transport

New incentives for local schemes that cut transport related pollution and encourage walking and cycling

Cut emissions from existing vehicles by review of MOT process

Only ultra-low emission vehicles will be permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes by 2040

Work with industry to accelerate the commercial introduction of zero emission fuel cell electric vehicles

Steps to deliver £10 a head annual public expenditure on cycling within existing budgets

Animal Welfare

Tackle wildlife and environmental crime

Improve standards of animal welfare

Review use of cages, crates and routine preventative antibiotics

Introduce effective science led ways of controlling bovine TB

Climate Change Adaptation

Prepare a national resilience plan to help the UK economy, national infrastructure and natural resources adapt to the likely impacts of a 3–4oC degree global average temp rise

Work with local government to review the governance of flood risk and land drainage

High standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas

Research back to nature flood prevention schemes e.g. role of habitats

Implement programmes to help farmers and other land users adapt to climate change impacts including protection of soil and forest carbon sinks, encouraging planting in uplands and restoring flood plains

Update construction and planning standards to futureproof buildings against higher summer temperatures

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Ensure farming support is concentrated on sustainable food production, conservation and tackling climate change

Fully implement recent reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy,

National plan for sustainable UK fisheries

Natural Environment in the UK

Place the country’s forest in a trust and plant a tree for every child born

Improve access to nature, protecting green space as National nature parks

Pass a nature law to protect nature and cut waste

New National Nature Parks

Increase recycling to 70% of household waste and minimise landfill

Clean up air and create low emission zones in towns with a pollution problem

Sustainable management of public forests

Improve UK enforcement of the EU birds and habitats directive

Protect bees, enforcing legal protection of bumblebee nests

Create network of marine protection areas with appropriate management by 2020

Encourage uptake of water metering

Task the Natural Capital committee with producing a ‘Stern report’ on resource use identifying resource being used unsustainable and recommending legally binding targets for reducing their net consumption

Regulation to promote sustainable design in which reparability, reuse, recyclability and packaging reduction are prioritised

Coherent tax and regulatory framework for landfill, incineration and waste collection

Low emissions zones in the most polluted towns and cities

Meet EU air quality standards for nitrous dioxide

Plaid Cymru

Energy

Introduce Green New Deal including set up of green skills college

Research, development and manufacturing jobs for more environmentally friendly economy

Encourage Welsh businesses to use energy and natural resources efficiently

Prioritise renewable sources as part of Welsh transition to a cleaner, more sustainable and secure future

Put management of Welsh energy and resources in hands of Welsh

Introduce a Climate Change Act for Wales

Achievable greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and 2050

Self-sufficiency in renewable electricity through proper harnessing of resourced

Energy policy will focus on increasing energy generation from renewable sources with particular emphasis on tidal and hydro sources such as the proposed tidal lagoons

Work to reduce energy usage

Making houses more energy efficient and assisting high use industries to reduce their energy consumption

Transfer investment from fossil fuel extraction to exploitation of sourced of renewable energy

Better advice for local communities in energy generation projections

Easier access to National Grid for renewable users

Freeze fracking and other forms of unconventional gas

Oppose opencast mining, especially when close to housing

Oppose new nuclear power plant developments in new locations

Transport

Ensure funding for urban cycle paths

Animal Welfare

Introduction of a European level animal welfare commissioner and adoption at all government levels of the new and comprehensive Animal Welfare law to end animal cruelty

Against growth of genetically modified organisms under a precautionary principle

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Support and safeguard sustainable sea fishing and seafood production

Natural Environment in the UK

Ambitious targets for recycling, with a primary focus on reuse over recycling

Reduce non-biodegradable waste from packaging by working with supermarkets

Oppose pylons in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Prevent spread of invasive species

SNP

Energy

Tax support for offshore wind

Ensure UK matches and support Scotland’s ambitious commitments to carbon reduction

Transmission arrangement should work to support rather than undermine production of renewable energy production in the most favourable locations]

Remove barriers that are limiting growth in the hydro sector

Additional support for pump hydro and carbon capture and storage schemes

Expansion of community heating schemes

Continue renewable heat incentive beyond 2015

Support a moratorium on fracking

Animal Welfare

Consultations on responsible dog ownership

Registration or licensing of horse establishments

Review of tail docking in working dogs

Action to end illegal ivory trade and protect species such as polar bears and bluefin tuna

UKIP

Energy

The Climate Change Act is doing untold damage, therefore UKIP will repeal it

Encourage re-development of British power stations and industrial units providing onsite power generation

Development of shale gas providing safeguards are in place

Withdraw taxpayer and consumer subsidies for new wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays

Investigate ways to assist and rejuvenate the coal industry

UKIP will abolish green taxes and levies and withdraw from the EUs emissions trading scheme

Abolishing government departments when their essential powers and functions can be merged into other departments such as the Department for Energy and Climate Change

Transport

Scrap HS2

Exempt vehicles over twenty-five years old from Vehicle Excise Duty

Animal Welfare

Triple maximum jail sentence for animal cruelty and torture

Lifetime ban on owning and looking after animals if convicted of cruelty or torture

Regulate and challenge companies using animals for testing drugs and medical treatment as to its necessity

Ban export of live animals for slaughter

Formal non-stun training and certification for all religious slaughter men

CCTV in every abattoir

Food, Agriculture and Fishing

Protect prime agricultural land from new housing

Organic farms will be paid a 25% premium in the Single Farm Payment

Support research into GM foods

Enforce no-take zones to aid spawning and replenish fish stocks

End destructive industrial fishing practise

Reverse any EU wide drift net ban in British waters

UK Natural Environment

Bring empty homes back into use

Incentivise brownfield development

Properties build on brownfield sites will be exempt from stamp duty on first sale up to the £250,000 threshold

Match-fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects such as creating a lake, wetland repairing traditional stone walls etc.

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