With a name like the Green Party it is would be surprising not to find a manifesto that strongly supported action on climate change. But is it enough to stop runaway climate change? The Centre for Alternative Technology explores the Green Party manifesto.
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?
Yes. They say “the scientific consensus on climate change has never been greater. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment report stipulating a limited global carbon budget, it is now accepted that we must leave the majority of known fossil fuel reserves un-extracted and un-burnt if we are to keep within 2 degrees of warming. To have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, the Green Party believes that we need a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases in the UK by 2030 (compared to the 1990 baseline) and a zero-carbon economy by 2050.”
[Score: Excellent, a good answer, clearly rooted in the evidence of the science]
2. How does your party’s policy take into account the historical legacy of UK carbon emissions?
Yes. They support an international climate change agreement based on Contraction and Convergence and say that we owe poorer countries a climate debt for our disproportionately high emissions. They would fund climate change adaptation and enable the building of resilient communities through the UN Adaptation Fund.
Score: An excellent proposal that acknowledges the historical debt owed by long industrialised countries to the rest of the world. Contraction and Convergence enables countries that currently emit very little carbon to increase emissions to reduce poverty, industrialised countries need to reduce their emissions down to a small per-capita limit, fixed to be consistent with a global limit that keeps temperature rises below 2 degrees.
The Green Party says that a global climate disaster can only be prevented if the whole world works together. “It is an absolute priority of The Green Party to secure a major new international agreement, in particular at December 2015’s UN meeting in Paris, with a wide-ranging workable plan to arrest climate change and share global resources more evenly.”
[Score: Very good, they don’t use the words legally-binding agreement but in combination with the rest of the manifesto it’s pretty clear that it is a huge priority for the party]
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?
They are calling for the phasing out of fossil fuels and fully support the campaign to encourage divestment from fossil fuels and develop alternative investment in efficiency and renewables programmes.
[Score: Excellent, a transition to a low carbon economy needs to begin with the phasing out of fossil fuels]
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?
[Score: It’s good, but at CAT we would urge for a zero-carbon economy by 2030, because the UK – as one of the first industrialised countries – needs to lead the world towards net zero emissions by 2050.]
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 Green Party strategy for energy efficiency ensures that the UK changes to an energy system based mainly on electricity from renewables within 15–20 years. They propose an investment of up to £35 billion in renewable energy. They would give Green Investment Bank full borrowing powers to help fund this investment. They would expand electricity storage capacity, including using the potential storage capacity of electric vehicles, and develop the commercial and regulatory framework to make this a reality.
They plan to spend £2.5 billion over the next Parliament on an intensive research and deployment programme for other renewables (such as wave and tidal stream generators) as well as storage technologies.
They would explore a range of legal measures and incentives to phase out fossil fuel use and nuclear power.
Their vision for the energy system is a diverse mix of public and private participants, including community, cooperative and municipal generation, supply and distribution, ending the dominance of the Big Six energy companies.
[Score: It ticks all the boxes and the numbers add up.]
Analysis: The Green Party policies around climate and energy are bold, ambitious and would lead to a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. At the same time they look to ensure the well-being of UK citizens. These are the types of policy recommendations that we need to see implemented, that reflect the urgency of the climate science and give a strong hope in keeping the temperature below 2 degrees.