Election issues #5: The Environment

June 6, 2017
There has been a woeful lack of discussion at this election about the biggest threat to our planet: Climate Change. Other parties’ manifestos are either silent on the topic or give it a cursory nod but, of course, it is part of the DNA of the Green Party. It is also interlinked to so many other policies and issues, such as the economy, immigration (climate change is already seeing the displacement of huge numbers of people and this will only continue if we don’t take massive steps over the next few years) and international relations (how it is possible that our prime minister won’t sign a letter with other European heads opposing Donald Trump’s intended withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement?).
The Green Party manifesto is, of course, clear on our commitment:
  • An Environmental Protection Act to safeguard and restore our environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection.
  • A public works programme of insulation to make every home warm and investing in flood defences and natural flood management to make every community safer.
  • Equality of access to nature and green spaces, to enhance leisure, health and wellbeing.

  • Active ongoing cooperation with businesses and other countries to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees and aiming for 1.5 degrees.
  • Replacing fracking, coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.
  • Introduce a one-off fine on car manufacturers who cheated the emissions testing regime and create a new Clean Air Act, expanding and funding a mandatory clean air zone network.
  • Strong protection for the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • A wider, more effective network of marine protected areas around our coasts, including fully protected no take zones.
  • Tough action to reduce plastic and other waste, including the introduction of Deposit Return Schemes, with a zero waste target.
Our parliamentary candidate, Martin Whybrow, states: “In my role as the only Green Party member on Kent County Council, I always try to provide a voice for the environment and lobby for positive, proactive change, within a business at all costs authority. As our co-leader, Caroline Lucas, has said, we either have a green economy or we don’t have an economy at all, we cannot carry on assuming we can have infinite growth on a finite planet. It is so important that individuals and campaigning organisations, such as Greenpeace and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (I am a long-standing and proactive member of both) keep the issues firmly to the fore. As such, it has been heartening how many people have contacted me about environmental issues at this election, it shows how deeply they feel about the issues, regardless of the failure of the mainstream media or other parties to give it proper consideration.”
The potential watering down of environmental protections with the UK’s intended withdrawal from the EU is a major concern. Nor will there be the ability of the EU to hold the UK to account when we fail to meet our commitments (as is so blatantly the case at present with air pollution) and there is a danger that we will not adopt new EU legislation, such as banning the use of neonicotinoids, which are so harmful to bees and other pollinators.