Labour’s plans for climate and nature score twice as high as the Conservatives, according to election manifesto ranking

A new ranking evaluates the green credentials of all major political party manifestos

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A new ranking, published today (28 November) by Greenpeace UK [1], evaluates the green credentials of all major political party manifestos. The Green Party tops the list with 19 out of 20, followed closely by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, on 16 and 15 respectively. Plaid Cymru come in fourth with 13 points, while the Conservatives score poorly with 7. The Brexit Party sit at the bottom of the pile with just 1 point.

Greenpeace analysed and scored policies that addressed a set of 16 criteria [2] for addressing the climate and nature emergency in each of the manifestos of the major political parties. The criteria fall into four broad categories – investing in a greener economy, climate justice and just transition; electricity, transport and homes; restoring nature and reforming food and farming; and showing global leadership on climate and nature.

The ranking comes ahead of tonight’s televised election debate on the climate emergency on Channel 4 [3], in which the leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, and the SNP will go head-to-head over their policies. Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have so far declined invitations to take part.

Political party

Invest

/ 6

Energy

/ 6

Nature

/ 5

Leadership

/ 3

Total score

/ 20

1st Green Party 6 6 4 3 19
2nd Labour 6 4 4 2 16
3rd Liberal Democrats 5 5 3 2 15
4th Plaid Cymru 5 4 2 2 13
5th Conservative Party 2 2 2 1 7
6th Brexit Party 0 0.5 0.5 0 1

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Manifestos are a shop window into the next five years of economic, political and social change. The climate and nature crisis will affect all three in ways that humanity has never experienced before, and those policies deserve to be displayed with prominence and a lot of detail.

“Some parties clearly recognise that this is an emergency and have included policies with the ambition needed to meet the scale of the challenge in front of us. But some have failed to adequately prepare.

“With environmental concerns rocketing up the public and political agenda, voters want to know what politicians plan to do to get us out of this mess and seize the opportunity for a greener and fairer future. Our ranking exposes their policies for all to see, allowing people to make an informed decision on December 12th.”

Of the two main parties, Labour scored more than twice as many points as the Conservatives. With more than half of Britons saying that climate change will influence how they vote [4], this information, if digested by voters, could significantly impact the election.

In marginal seats in the North and Midlands, 70% of voters say climate change will be an important deciding factor for them in this election, according to a new poll from the New Economics Foundation [5].

The Green Party’s manifesto performed well across the board, with only a few gaps around legally binding interim targets and a fully independent green watchdog for the Environment Bill and the need for a strong Global Oceans Treaty.

In addition to the Greens, Labour are the only other party to commit to at least 5% of annual government spending that will be required to transform our economy for a greener and fairer future [6], with strong commitments to making sure the transition is fair for communities and workers. The party also has strong policies to decarbonise the energy sector, with ambitious plans to increase the efficiency and insulation of new and existing homes.

There are progressive policies in the manifesto to revolutionise land-based travel, but they are let down by a lack of ambition to tackle aviation emissions. Their manifesto did contain significant gaps on nature restoration, but their accompanying Plan for Nature [7] sets out plans to plant 1 billion new trees by 2030 and 2 billion by 2040, alongside other ambitious measures such as incentivising a reduction in meat and dairy consumption.

The Conservative Party remains committed to leading efforts globally to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. They also promise to transform the agriculture sector, replacing the EU payment system with ‘public money for public goods’, which would lead to more nature friendly methods of farming and nature restoration.

However, the Party’s continued support for a number of polluting industries, such as aviation, oil and gas, and massive spending commitments for new road-building are at odds with their net-zero target. In many policy areas where the Conservatives originally progressed a green narrative, such as plastics, agriculture, and nature restoration, their policies in these areas have been significantly outflanked by most of the other main parties.

The Lib Dems have come out with some strong environmental policies that would see a frequent flyer levy to reduce emissions from aviation, strong domestic and international ocean protection policies and measures that would ensure a strong Environment Act and watchdog, with long and short-term legally binding targets. They don’t quite meet the required investment levels needed for a greener and fairer economy however, and are not sure-footed on the need for deep reform of food production and sustainable fishing.

Plaid Cymru are aiming for an ambitious 2030 date for both zero carbon emissions and a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans. They also have strong policies for tackling waste and creating a circular economy. However they have a much more limited vision for nature restoration with a commitment to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payment scheme for agriculture, along with weak policies on ocean protection.

A complete lack of a plan to deliver a net zero future or restore nature, means that the Brexit Party scored poorly across all of the 16 criteria for climate and nature. They do however, plan to cancel HS2, which would devastate habitats and ancient woodland across the UK.

ENDS

Notes to editor:

The Scottish National Party’s manifesto was not published in time to be included in this ranking. However, Greenpeace still plan to review their policies in line with the 16 criteria for addressing the climate and nature emergencies.

[1] Here is a google sheet with a breakdown of the manifesto scoring

[2] For a full breakdown of the 16 manifesto priorities to address the climate and nature emergency, please email phil.richards@greenpeace.org

[3] https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/1199032981681328128

[4] Climate crisis affects how majority will vote in UK election – poll

[5] A survey from New Economics Foundation and Survation today finds that 70% of those polled in 45 marginal seats in the North and Midlands consider climate change to be important when deciding who to vote for at the coming General Election

This survey is embargoed until 00.01 28 November 2019 and can be obtained by contacting the New Economic Foundation press office: https://neweconomics.org/contact-us/

[6] How the government can invest to tackle the climate and nature emergency

[7] Labour’s Plan for Nature will be released later today. Greenpeace were given an embargoed copy of the report for the purpose of the manifesto ranking

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