In this piece we will look at the policies towards energy and the renewable energy sector by the major political parties in order to inform. This piece is to be informative and free from any political angle.
On June 8th the UK will hold a general election. In campaigning for the general election the major parties have released their manifestos which outline their policies that they will implement when/if they get elected. Many believe this election is one of the most important elections in recent times due to UK exiting the European Union. The approach to the ‘Brexit’ negotiations will have considerable implications for the UK especially in terms of climate and energy policy, from how energy is traded across borders to the regulation of emissions.
The Conservative Manifesto states “we will form our energy policy based not on the way energy is generated but on the ends we desire – reliable and affordable energy, seizing the industrial opportunity that new technology presents and meeting our global commitments on climate change.” The Conservative Party pledges it will launch an independent review into the cost of energy, aiming to secure low prices, along with a reliable supply, while helping the UK to meet its 2050 climate change objectives.
The Labour Party Manifesto states that “we will act to protect the future of our planet, with social justice at the heart of our environment policies. We will create a low-carbon economy, using our National Investment Bank. And we will deliver an energy policy for the 60 million, not the Big 6 energy companies, championing community-owned renewable energy.”
The Liberal Democrats Manifesto states ‘climate change and air pollution threaten our future. We will invest to find new ways to protect the planet and boost the economy at the same time. We will prevent 40,000 premature deaths a year by cutting air pollution and more than double the production of green electricity to 60% by 2030’. They also pledge to set a legally-binding zero-carbon target for 2050, with a new act of parliament that would be one of five green laws along with transport, waste, nature and buildings.
The UKIP Manifesto states that they 'will scrap the 2008 Climate Change Act and the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, support ‘fracking’ for shale gas, end subsidies for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays, support renewable energy where it can deliver electricity at competitive prices, seek to rejuvenate the coal industry, abolish ‘green levies’ to cut the cost of fuel bills and force energy companies to end higher charges for pre-payment meters'
The Green Party Manifesto states that they will be '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.' They also add that 'The UK must lead the world in building a green economy and investing in a viable future'
Leaving the European Union and how we leave the European Union is a major talking point being discussed in the build up to this general election. With many of our current environmental policies coming from the EU, the party which comes into power will have a decision to make with regards to the policies that we currently have.
The Conservative Party say that EU environmental protections will continue to apply “at the point at which we leave the EU”.
The Labour Party and the Green Party both state that to ensure existing environmental rules are maintained during the Brexit process. The Labour party also state that '80% of environmental protections that people and nature rely on come from the EU.'
The Liberal Democrats state the 'European Union has created the highest environmental standards in the world. We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change. Liberal Democrats will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law, including the closest possible cooperation on climate and energy policy.'
Plaid Cymru have advised that they hope to “build upon” these environmental rules.
Domestic energy policy was first announced back in April after the Conservative Party pledged to cap energy bills after huge rises in the price of electricity. Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party promise to cap energy bills if they are elected, meaning a more interventionist approach to energy policy to what we have currently with the Labour Party stating ‘We will deliver clean energy, affordable heating and electricity - energy for the 60 million, not the big 6 energy companies.’
The Conservative Party have stated that they promise “a safeguard tariff cap that will extend the price protection currently in place for some vulnerable customers to more customers”. They also add that 'Our ambition is that the UK will have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses.'
The Labour Party promise an energy bill price cap of £1,000 per year and advise that they will deliver clean energy, affordable heating and electricity - energy for the 60 million, not the big 6 energy companies. This will be a temporary measures as 'we transition to a fairer system for bill payers.'
The Liberal Democrats state they will “reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local authority renewable schemes.'
The Green Party advise that they will 'cut bills and ensure warm homes for all.' They will be able to do this because 'electricity from renewables will replace existing polluting energy sources, ensuring stable prices and removing dependence on foreign fuel imports...the price of power will continue to be set according to the wholesale market where we expect the majority of electricity to be traded.' They will also 'introduce a progressive energy tariffs so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones.'
UKIP states it will remove VAT from domestic fuel and scrap green levies “to reduce household bills by an average of £170”.
The Committee on Climate Change claim that between 2008 and 2016, increases in energy bills due to carbon pricing and subsidies for low-carbon energy have been more than offset by savings due to energy efficiency.
The Conservative Party state that the 'next Tory Government will offer smart meters to every business and household by the end of 2020, and commit to upgrade all homes to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2030.' They have also stated that 'an energy efficient home is a more affordable and healthy home,'
The Labour Party manifesto states that it will insulate four million homes “as an infrastructure priority”. They will also consult on what standards new homes will be built to.
The Liberal Democrats also want to insulate four million homes by 2022 and bring all homes in England to band C efficiency by 2035. They will also reintroduce the zero-carbon standard, extending it to non-domestic buildings to 2022 as well. Their manifesto states that they will 'set up a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise investment into the low carbon and sustainable infrastructure the UK needs to remain competitive.'
The Green Party wants to insulate nine million homes as part of 'a national programme of insulation and retrofitting.' They also plan to reintroduce zero-carbon standards for new homes, which would be binding from 2020
The Conservative Party state that they 'want to see a diverse range of sources for Britain's energy production...while we do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England, we will maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind and support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland.” Their manifesto also states that it 'dismisses the commercial viability of large-scale onshore wind, but offers support for offshore turbines, along with the development of projects in the remote islands of Scotland. The Tories will look to ensure almost every vehicle to be zero-emission by 2050, reaffirming the pre-election pledge to invest £600m on low-emission transport by the end of the decade.'
The Labour Party states it will source 60% of the UK’s heat and power from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 pledging that they 'will create over 300,000 renewable energy jobs throughout the country...' and that they 'will put modern low-carbon industries at the heart of our £500 billion investment strategy, championing a new green industrial revolution.' They also advise that they “will support further [new] nuclear projects”
The Liberal Democrats want 60% of the UK’s power to be renewable by 2030. They will support new nuclear “[provided] there is no public subsidy for new build”.
The Green Party pledge to phase out unabated coal-fired electricity to 2023 “at the latest” and “keep fossil fuels…in the ground”. They also pledge an end to the “effective ban on onshore wind – the cheapest form of new electricity generation”. The Green Party will also be 'scaling up investment in offshore wind and marine renewables.'
The Conservative Party manifesto advises that they will “lead international action against climate change”. They will do this by utilising technology such as battery storage and offshore wind to help the country meet its 2050 climate change targets to reduce emissions by 60% from 1990 levels.
The Labour Party manifesto states that 'tackling climate change is non-negotiable, yet recent years have seen a failure to progress towards our targets. A Labour government will put us back on track to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement. Building a clean economy of the future is the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.'
The Liberal Democrats manifesto states 'issues such as climate change and air pollution don’t stop at borders and must be tackled at the international level. It is by working with Europe that we now have the first ever global agreement on cutting greenhouse emissions.'
The Green Party manifesto 'calls for the establishment of a number of targets for global and national greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and for the establishment of effective enforcement mechanisms. All targets herein relate to a baseline of emissions in 1990, as in the Kyoto Protocol. They also state 'we should aim steadily to reduce all UK greenhouse gas emissions to 10% of their 1990 levels by 2030.'
The UKIP manifesto states that they will repeal the Climate Change Act claiming that it has 'no basis in science'...'Set to cost us an eye-watering £319 billion by 2030, this Act has no basis in science, and its aim of cutting greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 is unachievable,'
The Plaid Cymru manifesto states that they will 'introduce a new climate change act, adopting ambitious but achievable greenhouse gas and pollution targets for 2030 and 2050.'
The Conservative Party manifesto includes a substantial section on fracking for shale gas. It claims fracking in the US has helped cut energy costs while reducing imports and emissions “because shale is cleaner than coal”. They also claim “We believe that shale energy has the potential to do the same thing in Britain”. They also plan to develop the shale industry in Britain, but only if “rigorous” environmental protections are upheld.
The Labour Party will ban fracking. The Labour party advise that fracking “would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change [CCC] says gas in the UK must sharply decline”.
The Liberal Democrats state they will “oppose” fracking due to “ its adverse impact on climate change.”
UKIP states it “will invest in shale gas exploration…[if it is] viable in Britain”, but not “in our national parks or other areas of outstanding natural beauty”.
The Green Party state that they will ban fracking and that 'the pursuit of fracking in the UK will jeopardise our ability to meet our climate targets and keeps us hooked on fossil fuels.'
We hope that the information has been useful and will help in making a more informed decision on June 8th. We understand that there are many more factors to take into account other than just those stated in this piece.