Comparing climate policies for the 2015 election
The Conservative Party manifesto is out – but how do the policy promises of the self-proclaimed ‘greenest government ever’ measure up when it comes to the environment and climate change? In the build-up to the 2015 General Election the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is exploring the climate manifestos from each party and weighing up what’s on offer. Whichever party or coalition of parties forms the Government will go on to represent us at the crucial Paris UN climate summit in December, where the world’s governments must broker an agreement to avoid really serious climate change.
1. Does your party’s climate policy accept the urgency of the evidence as defined by the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, and if implemented, how will it avoid the crucial 2°C average global temperature rise?
They do say we need to protect the planet for our children’s future and that they will meet climate change commitments and support the Climate Change Act. They recognise the need to stay within a 2 degree rise, but it’s not clear how their policies would help us to do this.
[Score: Poor, nothing directly linking to the goals arising from urgency of the scientific evidence]
2. How does your party’s policy take into account the historical legacy of UK carbon emissions?
There is no specific reference but they do say they will work to prevent climate change and assist the poorest in adapting to it.
[Score: Nil, no references to our responsibility as long term emitters of greenhouse gases]
3. How does your party’s policy reflect the leadership required to catalyse an agreement at the UN FCCC negotiations in Paris 2015?
They say, “we will push for a strong global climate deal later this year – one that keeps the goal of limiting global warming to two-degrees firmly in reach.”
[Score: Poor – we need to see how they plan to broker a legally-binding under 2 degrees agreement in Paris]
4. Does your party’s climate policy recognise that there are already more fossil fuels on the books of the big energy companies that we can safely burn – so adding more simply makes the problem worse?
The Conservatives have led the way in fracking the UK and “support the safe development of shale gas” (a fossil fuel) and will continue to subsidise the development of North Sea oil and gas.
[Score: Terrible, there is no intention to leave fossil fuels in the ground and begin a serious transition to a net zero carbon economy]
5. How does your party’s policy rise to the challenge of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions, as outlined in the IPCC’s 5th assessment report, and set a clear decarbonisation timeline for the UK?
We looked and we looked again but nowhere do we see the words ‘decarbonisation’, ‘net zero’, or ‘zero emissions’.
[Score: A kind of head in your hands moment in the CAT office]
6. How does your climate policy recognise the massive renewable resources available in and around the UK, and the potential for jobs and economic returns in harvesting them?
The headline is “no more onshore windfarms”. They will change the law so local people have the final say on windfarm applications and end public subsidies. The Conservatives are planning significant expansion into new nuclear and gas, back what they call “good-value green energy”and push for more new investment in UK energy sources. They do say the UK is the largest offshore wind market in the world and are planning to develop the Swansea tidal lagoon. Their real baby though is shale gas – they are looking forward to the “birth of a new industry, shale gas, which could create many thousands of jobs.”
[Score: Depressingly bad, wind energy has a huge potential in the UK to create new green jobs, reduce carbon emissions as well as providing energy]
Analysis: Does it deserve the title, ‘greenest government ever’? They claim they are going to broker a deal that keeps the planet under 2 degrees, but don’t mention the historic legacy of long industrialised countries as major contributers to greenhouse gas emissions. Their energy policy actively opposes onshore wind whilst subsidising north sea oil and offering incentives to fracking. How is this going to work? Please can we see the numbers! (Why not ask your local candidates?)