Since the early 1800s, every General Election has seen the main political parties appeal to their public with an obvious focus on the perpetual issue of public safety, including crime reducing policies and public health incentives.
The last few years’ worth of uncertainty along with the announcement of the December election has directed the public focus to each political party’s stance on Brexit which is, understandably expected to be the main factor contributing to the way in which the public decides to vote this year. However, recent polls have revealed a significant elevation of the climate crisis from a minor public concern in past generations, to one of the political campaigners’ top priorities.
Recent strikes and campaigns conducted by activists such as Greta Thornburg and national treasure David Attenborough has seen the younger generation take note and rise to the challenge of combatting climate change. This revelation supports the organisation YouGov’s most recent statistics that present climate issues as rising from a very low-ranking public concern to one of the top 3 social issues behind Brexit and health. 45% of 18-24-year olds put it as their second biggest concern after Brexit.
In order to bring attention to their individual climate change combatting commitments Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Nationalist and Green Party are calling for a live TV debate global warming. Currently, the Committee on Climate Change has set a national goal for the UK to reduce carbon emissions to "net zero" by 2050. Chief Executive Chris Stark brings attention to the value of this opportunity by labelling this 2019 elections as the ‘’climate election".
So, what are the main parties eco-initiatives?
The Green Party have heavily supported another EU referendum and have recently joined an alliance with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru parties in order to secure up to 60 seats across England and Wales during the general election. This move mainly comes from their joint motivation to cancel Brexit and increase the chances of Britain remaining in the European Union.
The Green Party is planning to fund its main pledge by increasing government borrowing by £91bn a year. It has been announced that the remaining £9bn required to finalise plans will come from tax charges including a targeted increase in corporation tax to 24%. The party claims that in the short time their plans will provide thousands of jobs with the promise of related improvements in public health and wellbeing in the future.
Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, also set out the Green Party's ambitious plan to make the country carbon neutral by 2030.
The current party in power has been seen historically to favour the elite of society and cower away from the needs of the general public. However, a recent ban of Fracking has caused a lot of the public to reconsider their opinions of the Conservative party as this move will evidently take a lot of power away from wealthy industries benefitting from these harmful practices.
The Conservatives are sticking with the current initiative to get the UK to net-zero emissions by 2050, 20 years later than the Green party are proposing. They have claimed that a cross-department pledge saw the proposition of a £1bn investment into developing electric vehicles as well as promises to capitalise in more green spaces across the UK. Another idea included within their pledge to make the UK greener are plans to create a new ‘Great Northumberland Forest’ composed of over 1million trees in less than 3 years’ time. The party have also discussed how they will boost energy efficiency by 2025 with revised building standards for newbuild homes.
The labour parties’ main policies relate to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by committing to invest in new industries and revise existing practices. Their main idea takes form as the ‘Warm Home Pledge’, which aims to make all new build homes zero carbon by 2022. This plan would mean the day to day running of every UK household would not add extra carbon to the atmosphere.
Labour has publicised that their ‘Warm Home Pledge’ could be achieved through ‘‘tough’’ efficiency standards and using low carbon and renewable energy sources. This means that traditional, unsustainable, gas-powered heating systems will be replaced with solar panelling, triple glazing and "super-efficient insulation".
Labours proposed budget of £250bn to complete the renovations has been mocked by opposing parties for being unaffordable unrealistic, despite this, the party plans to go ahead with plans if elected. Their plans include investments of an average £9,300 per home on ecological upgrades, they’ve have rationalised the expense by claiming that it would save every effected household up to £200 a year per house in energy bills.
This party have also suggested that their proposals would create 450,000 jobs involved in the installation of energy-saving measures and renewable and low-carbon technologies.
As previously mentioned, the Liberal Democrats have recently joined forces with the Green and Plaid Cymru parties as a way to secure up to 60 seats within England and Wales during the December election. This comes from their unified desire to stop Brexit and remain in the European Union.
Much like the other parties, the Liberal Democrats have put a huge focus on green initiative including strengthening global partnerships to raise universal ambition, develop zero-carbon technologies and raise funding to help developing countries reach a net-zero status.
Some of the plans presented by the party are the banning of single-use plastics, the planting of 60 million trees annually and the creation of a national food strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.
Interestingly, they have also decided that a revision of the taxation system should see polluters pay more and to reward those adopting a sustainable lifestyle. Politicians have also said that this will come after a vital campaign educating the public on the urgency of the climate crisis.
As well as ecological housing initiatives similar to the other parties, the party have also decided to create an emphasis on the development of electric vehicles. By 2030, the Liberal Democrats plan to ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars and small vans including hybrids, with the intention of banning their use on public roads by 2045. The same party also wish to reduce the need for car travel by investing in public transports including an ultra-low-emission train network by 2035.
Whichever party wins the election, they will have to take into the consideration that Glasgow has been chosen to host and act as role models for the 26th annual Conference of Parties. During this summit, the UK’s green credentials will be under a global magnifying glass.