Charing electric car next to solar panels

Polling for the Planet: The UK General Election 2024

As we are currently in the midst of endless general election campaigns, televised debates and media reporting, it can be easy to overlook the importance of climate change in this election, however environmental policies are proving to be a key factor for many voters. With the exception of the climate-sceptic Reform party, all major political parties have pledged to address the environmental challenges facing the nation, albeit with varying degrees of ambition and specificity. Here is what the major parties are actually saying about climate change and why it matters.

The Importance of Climate Change in the 2024 Election

The prominence of climate change in the 2024 UK general election reflects the growing public concern over the environmental crisis. According to a recent poll, climate change is the fifth most important issue for voters, behind the cost of living, health, the economy and immigration, and is proving a particularly swaying factor for younger voters. With the parties offering a variety of approaches to tackling climate change, it is up to you to choose which policy you see as the most effective when tackling environmental issues and promoting renewable energy. 

Regardless of the outcome, this general election is a pivotal moment in the UK’s environmental journey towards a sustainable and low-carbon future and whoever wins will have a monumental task of positioning the country as a global leader in the fight against climate change.

Parties' Approaches to Climate and Renewable Energy

The Conservative Party

The Conservative Party’s environmental policies have not been without controversy, particularly after Sunak’s recent U-turns on key policies such as delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. While there have been some U-turns, the party remains ‘full steam ahead’ to achieving net-zero targets by 2050, with an emphasis on “affordable and pragmatic” transition, prioritising energy security. 

The party has pledged to increase the rollout of renewable energy, including a promise to treble offshore wind capacity as well as support the development of new nuclear power stations. The Conservatives also support hydrogen production as a clean energy source and aims to make the UK a leader in hydrogen technology. They also plan to continue issuing licences for oil and gas production in the North Sea, arguing that this is necessary to ensure energy security, although this has led to scepticism over the party’s commitment to its net-zero target.

The Labour Party

In contrast, the Labour Party has placed green policies "at the heart" of its plans for growth and prosperity. Labour's manifesto outlines a £23.7 billion spending budget for green initiatives over the next parliament, including substantial investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, with the aim of achieving a zero-carbon energy system by 2030. Labour's key policy is the creation of a publicly owned clean energy company, "Great British Energy," which it claims will help cut bills and boost energy security.

In addition to this, Labour’s Green New Deal proposes large-scale public investment in green technologies and infrastructure, for example retrofitting homes for energy efficiency and expanding public transport networks. This Green New Deal aims to create millions of new jobs, as well as deal with climate change, aiming to create 650,000 jobs by 2030.

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have also made climate change a key priority, as they pledge to "take the action needed now" to reach net-zero by 2045, which is five years ahead of the current UK target. The Lib Dems' manifesto aims to remove restrictions on new solar and wind projects, as well as support investment in tidal and wave power. Their policies also aim to make UK homes more sustainable as they pledge to provide free insulation and heat pumps for low-income households, as well as requiring all new homes to be fitted with solar panels. 

I’m sure we have all seen Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey falling off a paddle board into Lake Windermere, however there was a good reason behind this. The Liberal Democrats key focus is on tackling the issue of sewage dumping in our seas and rivers, including a sewage tax and a ban on water company executive bonuses.

The Green Party

The party with the most ambitious climate targets is of course the Green Party, as they aim to achieve net-zero by 2035, the earliest of any party. The party's manifesto includes a pledge to spend £40 billion per year on the transition to a green economy, including measures such as a ban on new coal mines and fossil fuel extraction projects, as well as a carbon tax on fossil fuel imports and domestic extraction. Their pledge to nationalise the “Big 5” energy companies is the closest any party comes to a publicly-owned energy system.

Overview 

As the UK prepares to head to the polls in July, the climate crisis has firmly established itself as a pressing issue in the general election. The decision made by voters will determine the country's environmental path towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy and its ability to meet net-zero emissions targets, as well as represent the UK as an environmental leader on the global stage. 

No matter who you vote for, your vote counts and will have a crucial impact on the environmental journey of the UK. So don’t forget your photo ID on the 4th of July and have your say on what matters to you! 

 

Share
Leave comment

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Sign up to receive environmental news and updates!