Election 2015: 10 green policies we want to see
In the months leading up to the UK General Election, almost every corner of the green industry has given us its own set of policy wants. Here's a round-up of our top 10.
Some of the ideas have political support, while some are more fanciful (Carbon Minister, anyone?)
With polling day now less than 24 hours away, edie has summarised 10 of the best ideas that we’ve seen that would help the UK transition to a robust and resilient green economy.
1) Office for Resource Management (ORM)
Such a body would set policy direction on resource security and efficiency as well as providing relevant data on raw materials for manufacturers.
Friends of the Earth say it would reduce “the nation’s environmental and human impacts abroad and put our economy on a securer footing”.
Calls for this type of office have come from a broad coalition including Friends of the Earth, EEF, ICE, and the Green Alliance.
In the election campaign, both Labour and the Lib Dems promised to establish an ORM, but only the Lib Dems backed that promise in the manifesto.
2) Circular Economy Act
This was one of the primary asks of the Resource Association in its own manifesto.
“We challenge them all [the political parties] to be bold and seize the prize of resources, jobs and growth in a circular economy,” the Association said.
According to a recent WRAP study, the circular economy could add 200,000 jobs to the UK economy by 2030, but 88% of sustainability professionals think that the industry they work in is not doing enough to achieve circular economy goals.
3) Nature & Wellbeing Act to protect natural capital
The UK’s current rate of loss of biodiversity and natural capital is reaching a crisis point and “significant new effort” will be needed by the incoming government to ensure the delivery of much-needed national infrastructure.
That’s the view of 92% of sustainability professionals surveyed by IEMA.
“If we are to retain our natural assets and wildlife, the next government must be the first Parliament to create a Nature and Wellbeing Act,” said an IEMA spokesperson.
4) A new air quality strategy
Currently there is no government strategy to improve air quality.
As the Institution of Environmental Sciences & Institute of Air Quality Management explained: “This needs to be urgently addressed by the new government. This should include new regulation, fiscal incentives and public education initiatives to improve air quality and properly protect human health.”
The UK government has been ordered to clean up the air by the Supreme Court before the end of 2015, so air quality measures could be one of the early priorities in the next parliament.
5) New Green Deal
In its final report of the last Parliament, the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) stated that the government’s efforts to engage consumers in energy efficiency through the Green Deal “have largely failed”.
The scheme must therefore be replaced with a policy that genuinely engages the consumer to bring about a step-change in energy efficiency.
The opinion is not a unique one and the major parties have included various insulation pledges in their manifestos. The Greens suggest a £45bn home-improvement plan, while the Lib Dems want to bring the homes of all fuel-poor households to Band C by 2027.
Labour supports a ‘major drive for efficiency’, insulating five million homes by 2020.
6) Prepare the UK for climate change
“There is no sense we are tackling the priority risks of climate change,” said the Environmental Audit Committee after the manifestos.
“Flooding poses the biggest adaptation risk here in the UK, yet the Adaptation Programme gives you no sense of this.”
The committee wants the next government to allow the Environment Agency to allocate flood defence funds according to objective analysis, without political interference.
7) Lead internationally on climate change
A global deal at Paris 2015 would have a “truly profound effect” on British manufacturers, according to EEF.
All three main party leaders appear to be on the same page on this issue, having recently signed that cross-party agreement pledging to “seek a fair, strong, legally-binding global climate deal which limits global temperatures to below 2C”.
The Conservatives and Labour have also promised to stick with the Climate Change Act, while the Lib Dems want to make Britain completely carbon neutral by 2050.
8) Unleash the Green Investment Bank
More than 92% of IEMA members said that they want to see the role of the Green Investment Bank increased so that it has powers to appropriately borrow and invest in more projects.
Aldersgate Group chair Peter Young also argued recently that the GIB’s remit should be “widened to the 60% of the green economy it is excluded from”.
Currently, the GIB does not have powers to borrow from the private sector and is currently limited by EU competition laws which don’t allow it to invest unless there is obvious market failure. Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to give the GIB more borrowing powers.
9) Support renewables
An overwhelming majority (95%) of renewable energy companies say that the main political parties have failed to address the needs of the industry in their election campaigns, according to a survey of Renewable Energy Association (REA) members.
The Lib Dems were the most popular party of the main three with their plan to to source 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The ambition of that policy can be measured by comparing it to the target set by the renewables industry itself: 30% by 2030.
10) Create a Minister for Carbon
That’s the centrepiece of Ecotricity’s 2030 Vision for a Green Britain. The minister would set and oversee carbon limits across all sectors of the economy.
The plan also called for ‘Quantitative Greening’ – deploying quantitative easing by the Bank of England directly into the renewables sector.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems professed support for the ideas, with Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey saying: “It’s certainly a document worth engaging with to draw out some of the key steps we might follow.”
- Read edie’s round-up of all the manifestos here