The General Election is just over a month away, but what have the main parties pledged for the UK’s energy market?
With opposition to global warming and the climate crisis gaining momentum around the world, energy and environmental policies are set to be high on the agenda of this year’s General Election. According to a recent poll, over half (54%) of British voters said climate change policies would affect how they vote. So, what have the competing political parties promised to do about energy and the environment?
Perhaps surprisingly since so many voters are concerned about climate change, the Conservative Party has yet to put the issue at the forefront of its campaign. Instead, the current ruling party has focused heavily on Brexit. The Tories, including the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have also promised to increase funding for the NHS and the police, as well as attack the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as being ‘unfit to lead’.
Back in September, during the Conservative Party’s annual conference, the party announced it would be investing £200 million in nuclear fusion plus an increase in spending on electric vehicle infrastructure. The current government has also set a target for the UK to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, although many critics claim it has no clear policies to support this goal.
The only significant stance the Conservative Party has taken on energy since campaigning for the upcoming election began has been a U-turn on its fracking policies. This was initially welcomed by environmental campaigners, although many critics believe this to be just a false election promise with no real intention to go through with it.
“Their own energy secretary has described pausing fracking as a ‘disappointment’, says fracking is a ‘huge opportunity’ and that the UK will rely on fracked shale gas for decades to come,” said Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey. “This confirms that the Tories are only temporarily pausing fracking to try to win a few votes.”
The Labour Party itself has promised to upgrade the energy efficiency of every home in the country under its Warm Homes for All scheme. This includes installing solar panels in around 1.75 million homes by 2030. The project would cost around £250 billion, but Labour claims it will result in annual savings of £11.54 billion by 2030 while also creating 250,000 jobs.
“By investing on a massive scale, we will usher in a Green Industrial Revolution with good, clean jobs that will transform towns, cities and communities that have been held back and neglected for decades,” said Jeremy Corby, leader of the Labour Party.
The Liberal Democrats, like the Conservatives, have also focused their campaign on Brexit but on their desire to stop it. However, the party has also made some pledges regarding energy, such as its plans for the UK to source 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, which would involve doubling the wind and solar power capacity in the UK. It has also pledged to upgrade the energy efficiency of 26 million homes within the next five years at a cost of £15 billion.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party who have a clear, ambitious plan to cut harmful emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2045,” said Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat’s spokesperson for the climate emergency. “We would raise efficiency standards of every home and more than double the amount of electricity we generate from renewables.”
The Green Party, unsurprisingly, is focusing its campaign primarily on energy and the environment. The party has promised to invest £100 billion in tackling climate change over the next ten years in order for the UK to be free from fossil fuels by 2030. This would include upgrading transport infrastructure and building around 100,000 energy-efficient homes every year.
“Some things are even bigger than Brexit,” said Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party. “This must be the climate election.”