The Conservatives are in power. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which oversees the work of Parliament on climate has said:
“Last June, we advised that 25 deadline policy actions were needed for the year ahead. Twelve months later, only one has been delivered by Government in full. Ten of the actions have not shown even partial progress. Government continues to be off track for the fourth and fifth carbon budgets – on their own appraisal – and the policy gap has widened further this year as an increase in the projection of future emissions has outweighed the impact of new policies.” [Reference]
The Conservative manifesto does not mention climate or environment in the table of contents. First mention of climate is on page 12 (3825th word after contents page). The first mention of animal is page 5 (1033rd word).
Animal and climate are both mentioned 10 times: environment is mentioned 22 times, however, some uses are in the context of social/built rather than natural environments (and it’s still used less than Labour’s 78 and Lib Dem’s 49 mentions). Basically, they talk about the climate catastrophe much less than the other parties.
Conservation is, and always has been, at the heart of Conservatism. Our Government’s stewardship of the natural environment, its focus on protecting the countryside and reducing plastic waste, is a source of
immense pride. But today, the climate emergency means that the challenges we face stretch far beyond our borders. Thanks to the efforts of successive
Governments, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar
developed country. We are now the world’s leader in offshore wind – a
fantastic success story of Government and the private sector working hand
in hand to cut costs and deliver ever more electricity at plummeting costs.
Unlike Jeremy Corbyn, we believe that free markets, innovation and prosperity can protect the planet.
Friends of the Earth said “Despite the Conservative Party manifesto including decent policies on plastics and agricultural subsidies, and a restatement of the moratorium on fracking, in sector after sector its commitments were invariably weaker than the other parties, entirely absent or just plain bad (take the road building programme, for example). Overall, their manifesto comprehensively fails to address the climate and nature emergencies, which are hurting communities right now and will deliver catastrophe in the future.”
Only 16 of 572 candidates took the Friends of the Earth pledge to make climate a priority in parliament (as of 8/12/19)
The Friends of The Earth review is really bad, so I took a look myself to make sure it’s not just biased. I tried to objectively understand the manifesto page(s)? on climate.
Without climate in the table of contents, I had to use a key word search: sections that feature climate policies include “Unleash innovation”, “Stewards of our environment”, “Fight climate change and protect the environment”, “Support rural life and coastal communities”, “Increase trade and prosperity” and “Places we want to live in”.
The polices are dotted about in a way that is difficult to understand and they often include things not related to climate, or are in sections about other things.
It could be argued that this shows an integrated approach, where climate change is a factor in many policy areas. However, if this is the case, why don’t the Conservatives propose that climate should be considered during all legal and financial decisions (as the Lib Dems and Labour both do)?
Here are some of the policies I found using keyword search:
- We will support the creation of new kinds of homes that have low energy bills and which support our environmental targets and will expect all new streets to be lined with trees (page 33)
- We will use our £1 billion Ayrton Fund to develop affordable and accessible clean energy that will improve lives and help us to lead the world in tackling climate change (page 42)
- In return for funding [farmers] must farm in a way that protects and enhances our natural environment (page 42)
- We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund (page 45)
- We […] will introduce a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging (page 45)
- We will introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass. (Page 45)
- We will lead the global fight against climate change by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as advised by the independent Committee on Climate Change [and] we will use our position hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to ask our global partners to match our ambition (page 57)
- We will set up new international partnerships to tackle deforestation and protect vital landscapes and wildlife corridors (page 57)
- We will help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals (page 57)
- In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards (page 57)
I personally believe that the conservatives do not have a clear, organised or intelligible policy on the climate catastrophe. I am extremely concerned by this.
On animal welfare they say “High standards of animal welfare are one of the hallmarks of a civilised society. We have a long tradition of protecting animals in this country, often many years before others follow. Under a Conservative Government, that will continue – and we will continue to support such efforts overseas.” and “Conservation is, and always has been, at the heart of Conservatism. Our Government’s stewardship of the natural environment, its focus on protecting the countryside and reducing plastic waste, is a source of immense pride.”
Animal welfare is highlighted more than the climate catastrophe in the manifesto, it is given it’s own box and photo (of a man and a dog). Policies include:
- Introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty
- Crackdown on the illegal smuggling of dogs and puppies (what about puppy farms?)
- Bring in new laws on animal sentience (specifically….?)
- End excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening – one of the many benefits of leaving the European Union (No specific time mentioned)
- Bring the ivory ban into force and extend it to cover other ivory-bearing species, and ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered animals
- Ban keeping primates as pets
- Bring forward cat microchipping, giving cat owners peace of mind and increasing the measures we have available to tackle cat theft
According to Compassion in World Farming
The Conservative party WILL:
- Probably end live exports
- Prevent Low Welfare Imports
- Subsidies For Welfare
- Recognise Sentience
The Conservative party WILL NOT:
- Ban cages
- Ban Routine Antibiotics
- Method of Production Labelling
Sources: The Conservative Party Manifesto, Naturewatch, Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth