Election manifestos: Labour tops Friends of the Earth’s climate and nature league table

Press release
Climate and ecological crisis must be at the top of next government's agenda, says Friends of the Earth  
  Published:  07 Dec 2019    |      3 minute read

The Labour party has come out top in Friends of the Earth’s environmental assessment of the main UK-wide party manifestos, with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats also putting forward a wide-range of significant policies to respond to the climate and ecological crisis. 

The assessment, published today, looked at the manifestos of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Green parties. These were scored against Friends of the Earth’s election asks – which covered ten areas including, climate targets, energy, transport, food and nature. The manifestos were marked out of 45.

The final assessment saw Labour, Lib Dems and Greens all marked highly, but with the Labour Party given a slightly higher score overall. The Conservative Party scored poorly: its manifesto was judged to be missing significant commitments in numerous areas, inadequate policies in others, and actively damaging policies in transport.  

•  Labour: 33

•  Green: 31

•  Liberal Democrat: 30

•  Conservatives: 5.5

 Dave Timms, Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, said:

"Environmental issues have been given greater priority in this election than ever before – and with the world in the midst of an ecological and climate crisis this must be the next government’s top priority. 

“Many of the policies that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green party have put forward are commensurate with, or striving to meet, the challenges we face. It is disappointing we have not yet seen the same urgency, ambition or consistency from the Conservative party. 

“We don’t have time for yet more dither and delay – the next government needs to urgently start the work of transforming our economy and infrastructure, and restoring nature to deliver a safer, brighter future.”

Friends of the Earth sent the parties an initial score following publication of their manifestos. They were then allowed further time to provide additional pledges, clarifications or restatements of existing policies, which might have been left out of manifestos but form part of the party's policies for government.

A letter sent exclusively to Friends of the Earth from four Labour Shadow Secretaries of State (and published with the scoring) went further than the manifesto in key areas. It included a strong preference for a frequent flyer levy to manage demand for aviation, promised to review the Aviation National Policy Statement against much tougher carbon targets - and said expansion at Heathrow airport would be cancelled if it wasn't consistent with these targets. The letter also pledged that a Labour government would take funds directly from the road building programme for public transport projects.

The Lib Dems set out addition pledges to its manifesto in a letter to Friends of the Earth recommitting to the policies in its previously published  Climate Emergency policy document. However, the Green's did not provide any additional clarification or restate previous pledges in a number of policy areas ahead of Friends of the Earth's deadline.


Dave Timms, Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, said:

"Labour’s manifesto contains strong, funded policies on home energy efficiency and renewables. This was boosted by significant additional pledges during the campaign on plans for tree planting, food policy, public transport and cycling - as well as a commitment to strong environmental law and enforcement.

"The Lib Dems and Greens both scored similarly and had a suite of policies which were consistently judged to meet, and sometimes exceed, Friends of the Earth's policy demands. Both had especially strong policies on home energy efficiency and renewables, but scored slightly lower than Labour overall.

"Despite the Conservative Party manifesto offering decent policies on plastics and agricultural subsidies and restatement of the moratorium on fracking, in sector after sector its commitments were invariably weaker than the other parties, entirely absent or just plain bad. 

“Their manifesto consistently failed to step up to address the climate and nature emergencies, which are hurting communities right now and will deliver catastrophe in the future. We were concerned that they failed to restate commitments to some existing positive government policies."

Earlier this week Friends of the Earth published a list of over 1000 general election candidates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have taken a Friends of the Earth pledge to make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how they would vote in parliament if elected.

Notes to editors:

1. Friends of the Earth is independent of all political parties and does not endorse or favour any particular party. We are calling on all political parties to adopt these policies in their manifestos and will hold them to account for any promises made following the election.