Election 2017: Seven charts that underline the importance of ambitious green policy
EXCLUSIVE: The manifestos are in, and so are the results of edie's green policy survey which reveals the areas of energy and environment legislation that our readers want the next UK Government to prioritise.
Over the past two weeks, we asked people from across the green business community to take a short survey to gauge the hopes and expectations of sustainability and energy professionals ahead of Thursday's General Election.
More than 100 edie readers took part in the survey. The largest proportion of respondents have a sustainability or environmental management background (37%), with consultants (17%) and energy managers (9%) also well represented in the dataset. The respondents also represent a broad spread of industries and sectors ranging from construction (13%) and central/local government (13%) through to utilities (10%) and manufacturing (9%).
So, how do sustainability professionals feel about the current state of green policy? Which legislative frameworks should be prioritised? And are those priorities in line with the key ambitions and pledges set out in the main parties' manifestos? edie's survey reveals all, with the results analysed below...
Green policy and the 2017 General Election: Our survey said...
1) The majority of edie readers are 'actively' or 'super' engaged with green policy
When it comes to energy and environment legislation, our readers know what they're talking about. The majority of respondents said they were either 'actively engaged' (49%) or 'super engaged' (25%) in green policy developments, while a grand total of zero respondents said they were not interested in green policy - meaning this is clearly an area that will sway the votes of edie readers.
But which areas of green policy are most important to the sustainable business community? Read on to find out...
2) The Tories have unanimously failed to impress
Whether it's the removal of subsidies for renewables, the scrapping of key frameworks such as the Green Deal and Zero-Carbon Homes Standard, or the cancellation of the £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition, the Conservative Party's regime has become known for a chop-and-change approach to green policy which has dented investor confidence.
And the green business community are evidently not impressed. When asked how they felt about the approach to energy and environment policy taken by the Conservatives in recent years, 61% of respondents said they were 'very disappointed', while 30% were 'not really impressed'. Just 4% said they were 'quite pleased' by the Tories' approach and, rather unsurprisingly, none of the respondents said they were 'really impressed'.
Could the Conservatives perform a green policy turnaround and regain that lost investor confidence if they win the election as the polls are suggesting? Or is it time to wipe the slate clean and vote for another party to adopt a more ambitious green policy approach.
3) What's the plan? New policy frameworks are needed NOW...
The Clean Growth Plan and the 25-Year Environment Plan. Both were promised last year, but both are still yet to be published. The green business community clearly feels enough is enough, with a huge 82% of respondents said the publication of the Clean Growth Plan was 'very' or 'extremely' important, while 83% said the same of the 25-Year Plan.
And then there's air quality. As edie reported last week, environmental lawyers are taking the Government to the High Court for a third time in a bid to remove "major flaws" from minister's plans to tackle the UK's illegal levels of air pollution.
As such, 61% of edie's survey respondents said the introduction of a Clean Air Act was 'extremely important', while 22% said it was 'very important' - the Labour Party could therefore win support among many edie readers, given that it has promised such an Act in its manifesto.
4) More ambitious energy policy is needed, along with a BAN on fracking
The list of green policy priorities for the next UK Government doesn't end there. In fact, energy efficiency is seen as the most important issue of all listed in this article (scroll down to point 7 for further details).
Meanwhile, the vast majority of respondents said the setting of more ambitious renewable energy targets is either 'extremely important' or 'very important' for the next UK Government - the Labour Party may again win some support here, having pledged a 60% renewables target for 2030 in its manifesto.
Fracking is an issue that seems to have divided the most respondents in this survey. Almost half of respondents (48%) claimed that a nationwide ban on the extraction of shale gas is 'extremely important', while 20% said such a move is 'not at all important'. This could therefore prove to be a key voting point among the main parties, with the Conservatives standing out as the only party that is in support of fracking, while Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party have all strongly opposed it.
5) A national waste plan is crucial for a circular economy
The main parties' manifestos contain relatively little on waste and recycling efforts, despite this area having reached something of a crisis point in England, with recycling rates slowing and the quantity of rejected recyclable waste increasing.
edie readers are demanding action, with a combined 78% of respondents claiming a national waste plan is desperately needed in order to increase recycling rates and achieve standardised collection systems across the country.
Whether the next Government will actually deliver a new plan is another question entirely...
6) Zero-carbon building regulations must be tightened, and the SDGs must be fully embedded
Remember when the Tories ditched plans to introduce greener homes into the housing mix through the zero-carbon homes policy? edie readers certainly do, with almost half of respondents (48%) claiming a renewed zero-carbon homes target is 'extremely important', on top of 32% who said this was 'very important'.
Brexit also stands out as a key voting point among the green business community (see point 7), with the majority claiming that the transposition of all relevant EU energy and environmental legislation into UK law following our departure from the bloc is 'extremely important'.
It is difficult to separate the main parties when it comes to the environmental implications of Brexit, though, with all pledging in some way or another to guarantee a green Brexit for the country's businesses. The Green Party has perhaps been the most vocal on the issue over the past few months, however.
Not to be forgotten about are the Sustainable Development Goals, which a combined 82% of respondents said were either 'very' or 'extremely' important for the next UK Government to embed in its policymaking processes. Labour may be a favourable choice on this point, having pledged to deliver a cross-government strategy for ensuring the SDGs are implemented, if elected on 8 June.
7) Energy efficiency, the 25-Year Environment Plan and a green Brexit are the TOP THREE PRIORITIES for the next Government
And so, we reach the last question of edie's green policy survey, which gave respondents the tricky task of selecting their top three priorities from all of those listed in the various tables above.
From the survey's 104 respondents, 42 selected 'make energy efficiency a national priority' within their three choices; 29 selected 'publish a 25-Year Environment Plan'; and 25 selected 'transpose EU green policy into UK law after Brexit'.
Other notable choices include the introduction of a Clean Air Act and the setting of more ambitious renewable energy targets, which were selected as top priorities by 24 and 22 respondents respectively.
Election 2017 green policy tracker: What the parties have said on energy and the environment...
It’s decision time. Tension is mounting among the green business community ahead of the UK election – but which party offers the most promising green policy approach?
edie has rounded up the most important inclusions (and exclusions) from each of the main parties’ manifestos into a single, easy-to-read document - the perfect read before voting on 8 June.