Parties set out energy ambitions as election nears

The UK’s political parties have set out their plans for energy, the environment and tackling the climate emergency in their manifestos ahead of the election on 12 December.

Within their manifesto, the Conservatives are pledging to “prioritise the environment” in the next Budget, while outlining commitments such as ensuring 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 and £9.2bn investment in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals. Other actions included £800mn to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s, and £1bn to complete a fast-charging network, ensuring everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

Labour, meanwhile, will aim to put the UK on track for net zero in the 2030s, with it striving for 90% of electricity and 50% of heat to be delivered from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030. Specific pledges included 7,000 new offshore windfarms, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines and enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches. The manifesto also outlined Labour’s plans to bring the energy and water systems into public ownership, with this including a new UK National Energy Agency to own and maintain the national grid infrastructure and oversee delivery of decarbonisation targets.

The Liberal Democrats led with a series of priorities for the next parliament in a bid to tackle the climate emergency: an emergency programme to insulate all of Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills, thus ending fuel poverty; investing in renewable power to ensure at least 80% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewables by 2030, while banning fracking for good; protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60mn trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health; and investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways, ensuring all new cars are electric by 2030.

In Scotland, the SNP has said that its MPs will demand the UK accelerates action to hit Scotland’s climate targets; campaign for the UK government to move forward plans to move to electric vehicles (EVs) to match Scotland’s target of 2032; campaign for the UK to stick to future EU emission standards, irrespective of the country’s position within the EU; and propose a Green Energy Deal which ensures that green energy schemes are handed the long-term certainty required to support investment. Other commitments include pressing the UK to accelerate action to decarbonise the gas grid and allow for onshore wind and solar power to bid for Contracts for Difference support.

In their manifesto, the Green Party proposed a Green New Deal to overcome the climate emergency, with £100bn a year of investment going into it. For energy, the deal would mean enabling communities to develop their own renewable energy projects; introducing new support and incentives to directly accelerate wind energy development, ensuring it delivers 70% of the UK’s electricity by 2030; and introducing new support for solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and other renewable energies to provide the majority of the rest of the UK’s energy supply by 2030. The Green Party would also create a new government department to oversee implementation of the Green New Deal, led by a Carbon Chancellor, responsible for setting a yearly Carbon Budget to drive decarbonisation of the economy.

Rather than publish a manifesto, the Brexit Party unveiled a “contract with the people” in which it said it would invest in the environment and, along with planting “millions of trees” to capture CO2, it will promote a global initiative at the UN. The party would also cut VAT on domestic fuel in a bid to reduce energy bills. It suggested this could save households an average of £65. In Wales, Plaid Cymru pledged it would oversee a green jobs revolution creating “tens of thousands of new jobs” alongside a national Welsh energy company. It also set out a series of commitments on green energy infrastructure, proposing tidal lagoons in Swansea Bay, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay; building the Ynys Môn offshore windfarm; and a network of local energy grids for Wales.

Conservatives   Labour   Liberal Democrats   The SNP   Green Party   Brexit Party   Plaid Cymru