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 • Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 05:18
Queen's speech

My government will continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris agreement.”

So said the Queen during her speech today introducing the start of the parliamentary year and the list of bills the government hopes to pass over the next 12 months.

Along with a brief note on affordable energy and electric cars, this was the only mention of anything related to climate change or the environment in the brief speech.

Despite dangerous air pollution levels across the UK and crucial environmental laws that need to be translated into British legislation as we leave the EU, the environment was notably missing as a policy priority.

By Mat Hope • Monday, June 12, 2017 - 20:03
Claire Perry

Prime minister Theresa May has had a busy few days. She continued to reshuffle her front-bench yesterday, moving a number of junior ministers into new roles.

One MP to find himself in a new job this morning is climate minister Nick Hurd, who has been moved to the Home Office.

He is replaced in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) by Claire Perry, the MP for Devizes in Wiltshire. She was previously assistant whip and a minister in the Department for Transport.

By Kyla Mandel • Monday, June 12, 2017 - 00:00
Theresa May

After a tumultuous few days cobbling together a government with the DUP, and trying to persuade the country that she can continue to provide the “certainty” it needs going into Brexit negotiations, Theresa May on Sunday shuffled her cabinet.

So far it doesn't seem things are likely to change very much as most of the key players have kept their roles held prior to the election, perhaps showing the limited options available to the UK's severely bruised PM.

There were some significant changes on the environmental front, however.

By John Gibbons • Sunday, June 11, 2017 - 07:35
DUP's Sammy Wilson

Theresa May’s general election gamble has seen a little-thought-of and highly controversial party thrust into the spotlight: Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Having failed to gain enough seats to form a majority the Conservative Party has turned to the DUP, which won 10 seats, to create an alliance and give the Tories the ability to govern as a minority.

While the two parties are said to still be “in discussions” over a possible agreement,  the decision to try and strike a deal has seen hundreds of protesters descend on Westminster due to the DUP’s stance on abortion, gay rights and climate change. Already more than 500,000 people have signed a petition condemning the Tory-DUP alliance.

By Simon Roach • Friday, June 9, 2017 - 05:12
Scotland election 2017

For the UK Conservative party, Scotland will be seen as one of the few successes of an otherwise miserable 2017 general election campaign.

Despite the loss an overall parliamentary majority and Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed plan to transform her party’s huge poll lead to a domineering presence in Westminster, the Tories somersaulted their 2015 election win of a single Scottish seat, this time taking 13.

This is the biggest surge since the Tory’s Scottish collapse following the 1980s, and will leave many – in a country vastly proud of its anti-Tory stance – wondering what happened.

By Kyla Mandel and... • Friday, June 9, 2017 - 00:00
10 Downing St door

Who saw that coming? Yeah, neither did we.

The Conservatives will return to parliament with the most MPs of any party, but without an overall majority. The next few hours will see Theresa May scramble to try and find the votes she needs to form a government.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have already offered the support of their MPs. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party have ruled out going into coalition with the Conservatives.

By Mat Hope • Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 01:38
Tina Rotheray and Green party leader Caroline Lucas

Tina Rothery is standing as the Green party candidate in the Fylde, an area on the frontline of the UK's fledgling shale gas industry.

She is running against Conservative Mark Menzies, who won the seat by around 13,000 votes in 2015.

But a vote for her and the Green party is not just a vote against Menzies, she told me over the phone. It's also a statement: that local opposition to fracking can't be ignored.

By Mat Hope • Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 02:44
Map of south east England

While Brexit may be making the national headlines, some voters are looking for MPs that share their concerns on a range of local climate and energy issues — from fracking, to air pollution and airport expansion.

With the general election just over a week away, DeSmog UK runs through the constituencies where candidates’ positions on energy and climate change issues could be decisive.

By Mat Hope • Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 13:35
Greener Hustings

How do you squeeze environmental issues into an election campaign dominated by Brexit? Perhaps by making Brexit about environmental issues.

That’s what Labour’s shadow trade minister Barry Gardiner did Tuesday night, accusing the Conservatives of using Brexit as a “vehicle for deregulation”, and putting the UK’s environment at risk as a consequence.

Gardiner was speaking at the Greener UK hustings, organised by a wide-ranging coalition of environmental NGOs held at London’s Royal Society on 30 May. His comments were directed at the Conservatives’ representative on the panel, environment minister Thérèse Coffey.

By Mat Hope • Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 02:55
Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Tim Farron

Theresa May today launched the Conservative party manifesto, eager to differentiate her party from the Liberal Democrats that are making a land-grab for the anti-Brexit centre, and a Labour party swinging leftwards and away (or possibly slightly towards) Europe.

But among the Conservatives’ vague anti-immigration promises and plans to tie social care to the value of an individual's estate was a stark fact — the Tories are now the only major party in the UK that does not oppose fracking.