UK Election 2017: Climate Change and Energy

Climate change isn’t a major issue in the UK 2017 election. But according to a recent survey the majority of people in Britain accept that climate change is happening right now.

Here we break down the parties’ main positions on climate change, energy and the environment.

Conservative Party:

Theresa May became prime minister in July 2016 shortly after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. One of her first acts as prime minister was to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change. While it's still not clear how Brexit is going to impact energy and the environment, a small but influential group of euro-climate sceptics (or Brexit climate deniers) have been working to take tackling climate change off of the national agenda.

The Conservative Party has long been pushing to develop a fracking industry in Britain. It is also a large proponent of nuclear energy and a strong opponent of the construction of onshore windfarms. The main priority for the party since the 2015 election has been affordability – to reduce emissions in the most “cost effective” way. On coal, the Conservatives have pledged to phase out the dirty fossil fuel by 2025 – plans on how to do this are currently underway. The party, however, has failed to release its new climate and emission reduction plans. A new strategy for tackling our emissions was originally promised to be released at the end of last year but continue to be delayed. 

Labour Party:

The Labour Party supports taking strong action on climate change and has called for the creation of green jobs and for renewables to be an important part of the energy mix. The party supports fracking so long as there are “robust” regulations. It also sees “clean coal” and nuclear power playing a role in the country’s energy mix.

Liberal Democrats:

The Lib Dems also view climate change as one of the nation’s (and world’s) greatest challenges that must be addressed. The party supports energy efficiency measures, strong regulation on fracking, and setting a high target for the amount of renewables incorporated into our energy mix. The party stated during the 2015 election that it wanted to see unabated coal phased-out by 2025. It also sees nuclear power playing a role in the low carbon energy mix.

Scottish National Party:

In January 2017 the SNP called for renewables to make up 50 percent of Scotland’s energy mix by 2030. Since 2015 Scotland has had a moratorium on fracking until the government can assess its safety. The party also supports the expansion of onshore and offshore wind power generation, and it has called for greater support for carbon capture and storage.

Green Party:

The Green Party has called climate change “the greatest challenge of our time”. It has called for the UK Climate Change Act to be strengthened and for more money to be put into flood protection. It does not support nuclear power or fracking. The party has called for all coal-fired power stations to be closed by 2023 and believes all energy can come from renewables if demand is properly managed. The Greens have also called for an end to subsidies (usually given in the form of tax breaks) for the fossil fuel industry.


UKIP is known for supporting climate denial (several of its members are climate science deniers) and its 2015 manifesto claimed the UK’s “failing energy policies” would not impact global emissions. The party has also said it wants to repeal the Climate Change Act. UKIP supports fracking and sees coal as “part of the solution” to energy security.

Plaid Cymru:

Plaid Cymru’s 2015 manifesto stated that “[We must recognise] the impacts of climate change upon poverty”. The party has introduced a Well-being of Future Generations Act which requires taking a “whole government approach” to climate change. Wales also has a moratorium on fracking and it aims to increase the amount of energy generated from renewables. The party is also opposed to opencast coal mining.

Photo: Number 10 via Flickr | CC 2.0


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By Kyla Mandel • Monday, May 1, 2017 - 13:00
Windmills and smoke stacks

The Brexit climate science deniers have over the weekend launched a coordinated attempt to persuade the UK to cut green regulations ahead of Theresa May revealing the Conservative Party’s 2017 general election manifesto.

In op-ed columns and letters to the editor in both The Times and The Telegraph members of climate science denying and neoliberal think tanks have criticised the UK Climate Change Act for increasing energy prices and called for looser regulations once we leave the European Union.

Those authoring the columns and heading up the letters belong to a small yet influential group of hardline Euro-climate sceptics as revealed by DeSmog UK last summer.

By Mat Hope • Friday, April 28, 2017 - 00:00
car exhaust

The government is getting good at putting a spin on its air pollution plans (or lack of them) ahead of the June 2017 general election.  

On Thursday, it told the high court it wanted to delay the publication of a new air quality strategy to “comply with pre-election propriety rules”. The court had previously ordered the government to release the report by Monday, after an earlier plan was judged to have been insufficiently ambitious.

The request for the delay comes shortly after the transport minister, John Hayes, tried to persuade parliament that the UK was at the forefront of European efforts to improve air quality from diesel emissions — when in fact the opposite appears to be true.

By Mat Hope • Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 07:21

On an uncharacteristically sunny day in central London, thousands of smiling people in white lab coats holding placards adorned with Einstein’s equations and Neil DeGrasse Tyson quotations marched towards Parliament shouting “science not silence”.

The chant filtered back a half-mile or so down the road, and all of a sudden, thousands of similarly dressed, previously shy people had become vocal. It was a rare moment of activism from a group normally content to go under the radar, bunkering down in labs and libraries across the world.

The chant quickly became the impromptu slogan for London’s March for Science on Saturday.