At a glance: Everything you need to know about green policy pledges ahead of the general election

The UK goes to the polls on Thursday (4 July) to elect a new government with potential to shape key climate and environmental policies. Parties have released their manifestos, some promising inadequate green policies while others prioritise the net-zero transition. Here, edie summarises everything you need to know.

At a glance: Everything you need to know about green policy pledges ahead of the general election

Climate change has been one of the central focus points of this year’s general election, driven in part by the escalating impacts such as floods and heatwaves experienced by people, as well as the dilutions of crucial net-zero policies by the current Tory Government last year.

Although the UK is obligated by the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, a recent poll indicated that 70% of UK citizens doubt the Government will reach this goal. This uncertainty about the Government’s plans to achieve net-zero emissions and decarbonise the industrial sector has also unsettled the private sector.

Last week, a major report, spearheaded by net-zero advocate Chris Skidmore, warned that the next UK Government must urgently provide “long-term certainty and a clear roadmap for net-zero”, or the nation could forfeit up to £115bn in energy company investments to nations with more supportive policy landscapes.

Building on these industry calls, all parties have released their manifestos detailing their promises on green policies, which will decide the trajectory of UK’s journey to net-zero. Here, we highlight the key pledges on climate and environmental policies.

What we know

The Tory Party

Previously criticised for scaling back on net-zero policies under the rhetoric of ‘pragmatism’, the Conservatives maintain a consistent approach in their manifesto, promising a “pragmatic decarbonisation pathway” aimed at minimising additional costs to households.

This includes plans to reduce current green levies on energy bills and introduce an energy efficiency voucher scheme for English households covering insulation, energy efficiency upgrades and solar panels, with details on budget and launch dates pending.

The Party has also committed to a parliamentary vote in the upcoming session on future net-zero emission strategies and aims to expand the Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s role to include household costs and energy security concerns in its advisory capacity.

It bears noting that Party leader Rishi Sunak has previously supported  a bullish approach to oil and gas expansion against the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The Party has plans to continue pursuing North Sea oil and gas expansion, once elected.

The Labour Party

While the Labour Party has no plans for a phase-down of gas-fired power plants either, it has stated intentions to halt the construction of any new ones.

The Party manifesto also sets out plans to spend £7.3bn on scaling low-carbon industries over the next Parliament, and to bring forward both a comprehensive modern industrial strategy and a ten-year infrastructure strategy.

Party leader Keir Starmer has also pledged to cap corporation tax and publish a roadmap for business taxation over the next four years, to provide businesses with the certainty to plan ahead. Additionally, Labour would move the grid decarbonisation target forward to 2030.

Greens, Lib Dems and Reform UK

The Green Party also envisions a decarbonised grid by 2030, while the Liberal Democrats would target a 90% renewable electricity mix by this point.

The Lib Dems and Greens are staunchly against developing new nuclear power plants and gas-fired power stations. The Lib Dems have also pledged ‘double nature’ by 2050 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

On the other hand, Reform UK has laid out plans to scrap all clean energy subsidies and increase taxes on the renewables sector. It foresees an energy mix dominated by gas and nuclear, prioritising small modular nuclear options.

For further understanding of the manifestos, read edie’s latest ‘Manifesto Matrix’, which clarifies all the green commitments and notable exclusions from the manifestos of the Conservatives, Labour Party, Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Reform UK.

What we want

While the political leaders have different standings when it comes to the future of climate and environmental policies within the nation, the messaging from the green economy is clear: the next Government must develop a lawful net-zero strategy and provide policy certainty to unlock sustainable finance.

According to research from the British Standards Institution (BSI), nine in ten of UK businesses are calling for more government support to meet decarbonisation targets.

Aldersgate Group’s executive director Rachel Solomon Williams tells edie that the nation currently needs “a holistic approach that embeds sustainability in the next Government’s plans for land use, infrastructure, buildings, transport, industry and the workforce.”

She says: “With climate targets becoming increasingly challenging to meet and the UK economy stagnating, we need to see progress accelerate quickly.”

edie has published an industry policy wish-list detailing what leaders in the green economy hope to see from the next UK Government.

Presently, Labour’s Kier Starmer is widely expected to win. What’s left to see now is whether the incoming UK Government, regardless of party, can effectively align the aspirations of the green economy with achievable and forthcoming policies.

Related article: UK general election brings fresh hope for a ‘mission-based approach’ to net-zero policy – edie

Related feature: What are the UK’s political parties promising on the energy transition? – edie

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