New government can’t hide from climate and ecological emergency

The Conservative Party failed to significantly address the climate and nature emergency in this election but with floods and wildfires already destroying communities here and abroad, the new government cannot hide from its responsibilities and must urgently prioritise the climate crisis.
  Published:  13 Dec 2019    |      2 minute read

The substantial majority secured by the Prime Minister yesterday means that there are no excuses for inaction and nowhere to hide; he must personally make policy to avert climate and ecological breakdown a priority.

In a Brexit-dominated campaign, the climate had a higher profile than ever before, clearly showing that people across the political spectrum and country want climate action from the government.

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

“In an election largely determined by Brexit, climate change received unprecedented attention. The rising tide of public concern, led by the youngest in our society, cannot be held back.

“The five warmest years on record happened in the last 10 years. Wildfires, floods and the devastating effects of climate breakdown are already harming communities here and abroad and yet action on climate change is flatlining and the UK currently is set to miss even the existing emissions reduction targets. A complete transformation of the level of resources and priority given to climate change is essential. The stakes cannot be higher.

“It was symptomatic of the lack of priority given to the issue that the Prime Minister didn’t attend the first ever election debate devoted to the climate where aviation expansion, energy production, and eating meat were just some subjects explored. And, despite containing a few areas with decent policies, overall the Conservative manifesto comprehensively failed to offer a plan commensurate with the scale required, with promises that were inadequate, absent, or actively damaging.”

During the election Friends of the Earth assessed all main party manifestos against our own manifesto covering ten important areas including transport, food, nature, climate targets, energy and local action. The Conservatives scored an abysmal 5.5 out of 45.

The absence of environmental policy indicates that this government must be made to respond to the challenge and scale of the climate emergency and campaigners have recommitted to their efforts to hold the government to account.

Dave Timms concluded:

“The UK is now likely to start trade negotiations with the US imminently. A dirty trade deal with Donald Trump and a hard Brexit would be disastrous for vital environmental protections – which the Conservatives have promised to maintain. We will fight to make sure the government keeps these laws and legislates for a powerful, independent watchdog to enforce them.

"Friends of the Earth successfully secured pledges from over 1200 parliamentary candidates to make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how they vote in parliament. This means we now have nearly 100 elected MPs who have already pledged to make climate a priority, and we need even more of their colleagues to now do the same.”