Labour is in hot pursuit of the Green Party when it comes to the quality of the environmental policies laid out in its manifesto, but the Conservatives and Brexit Party are lagging far behind, a new ranking of party policies by Greenpeace shows.
The Greens remained at the top, due to their long leadership in the field, but as the climate crisis becomes an increasing concern across the political spectrum, most major parties are scrambling to set out their credentials on the issue.
The ranking gave points to each party for criteria which fell into four broad categories. These were: investing in a greener economy; energy, transport and homes; restoring nature; and showing global leadership on climate and nature.
According to the ranking, the Green Party tops the list with 19 points out of a possible 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 one point. The SNP had not released their manifesto by the time Greenpeace published the results, the organisation said.
“Labour are stating to nail it in the categories of electricity, land-based transport, home heating and efficiency, greening economic policy, trade and industrial strategy,” the analysis by Greenpeace said.
“Their accompanying policy document for nature also contains some great things, especially on large-scale tree planting, recognising the need for action on more controversial areas like meat and dairy, pesticide use, efficient product design, nature recovery networks and ocean protection.
“They need to start being more vocal in all these areas,” the report said, adding: “The policy on sustainable food production is still unclear.”
The Conservatives, which sit near the bottom of the ranking “fall short” because their policies do not take a “cross-economy transformational approach,” the report said.
“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,” the report said.
The document also noted the Liberal Democrats scored better than Labour on transport, both in “aviation and a firmer commitment to get rid of polluting petrol and diesel cars and vans from our roads.”
But Greenpeace said Labour had the upper hand because tackling the climate and nature emergency was more deeply embedded in the party’s economic strategy.
Greenpeace applauded Plaid Cymru’s “ambitious 2030 date for both zero carbon emissions and a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans”, but noted 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.”
The Brexit Party received short shrift.
“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.”
The ranking comes ahead of Thursday night’s televised election debate on the climate emergency on Channel 4, 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.
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.”
She added: “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.”
Polls indicate more than half of UK voters say climate change will influence how they vote.
In marginal seats in the North and Midlands, 70 per cent 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.