Why would a Conservative win be bad for the climate?

An underwhelming track record on climate

The UK has had a Conservative government since May 2015. Many of the immediate changes brought in by the incoming administration were far from David Cameron's 'hug a husky' campaign image. Under George Osborne at the Treasury, many vital green programmes were slashed and fossil fuel tax breaks shored up (briefing - a year of going backwards on climate)

While Theresa May's government saw some climate achievements, for example expanding offshore wind, and a commitment to phase out coal burning in the UK by 2025, the attitude of 'business of usual' was firmly embedded across government departments. Immediately after the hugely influential 2018 IPCC climate explaining that we had just 12 years to act to have a chance of keeping planetary warming below 1.5C, Chancellor Philip Hammond set out a budget which did not once mention climate change. From the approval of a third runway at Heathrow to the continuation of policies to block any new onshore wind energy, it was clear that the climate crisis was never high up on the priority list.

In its 2019 progress repoort the Committee on Climate Change pointed out that out of 25 recommendations in its 2018 report, the government had delivered just one, and that under current policies the carbon budgets for 2023-2032 were set to be missed. A recent investigation by Greenpeace and the Financial Times found the UK on track to miss a range of other environmental targets in the early 2020s, including many that are legally binding.

Insufficient ambition

Decades wasted to cut our emissions mean that very rapid action is now needed, coupled with policies to ensure that these changes bring benefits across society rather than hitting the poorest - the sort of programme that has been branded a 'Green New Deal'. Unfortunately the government's current target of 'net zero by 2050' just doesn't cut it.

Brexit and deregulation

Boris Johnson is scrapping a commitment in May's Brexit deal to match EU rules on the environment, safety standards and workers’ rights - which it would make it easier to get a trade agreement with Donald Trump (although harder to deal with the EU). The agenda of radical deregulation favoured by key figures in the current Conservative party would be a disaster for climate action.

Read more - what can you do in the #ClimateElection