With the UK governments general election looming, Theresa May has again caused controversy by stating her favour to repeal the current ban on the barbaric blood sport, fox hunting. Enjoyed by the privileged and frowned on by the general public, the topic has again created a heated debate. However, with only a short time to go until the public must vote for a leader, little has been broadcast over the opposing parties differing views on broader environmental concerns.
After “deciding” to leave the EU last year it has become even more important for the UK to lead by example when it comes to environmental policies. Being part of the European bloc allowed the UK to be more influential in delivering global support on environmental issues. Now we must strive to not only drastically improve our own environmental state but to guide global plans by being a showcase nation.
However, the current government and the main opposing political party (Labour) are offering very different opinions on our environmental issues. The Torrie’s are happy to ‘be realesed of the red tape put onto them by the EU’ concerning environmental policy, however Labour promote the importance of following the targets agreed at the Paris climate agreement.
Perhaps the biggest contrast between the two parties comes when looking at their plans for the energy sector. It is no secret that energy production globally needs to be scrutinised and made much more sustainable, if we are to protect our planet.
Despite Labours strong past with the raw material energy business, Jeremy Corbyn realises that the UK must change its ways in order to clean up our environment. Labour aims for 60% of the UK’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. Corbyn would ditch all coal-fired power stations, increase investment into renewable energy and ban fracking.
On the other hand the conservatives want to follow Trump’s ‘Fracking revolution’, forcing the process on local communities, whilst continuing to give hand-outs to the dirty, expensive energy companies currently funding government. Fracking pollutes our air and drinking water, displaces communities and worsens the ongoing disaster of climate change.
The conservative party also conducted the controversial sale of the public-owned Green Investment Bank to the environmentally damaging Australian bank Macquarie. Selling a great British success story, which put private money into eco-projects, to a bank known for assets-stripping is surely a step backwards?
When it comes to the cleaning of transport emissions both parties offer vague commitments on investing into more sustainable transport modes. Labour pledge to electrify our railways and make our public transport cheaper and more efficient. The Conservatives say “almost every car and van” will be zero-emission by 2050. These things sound great but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan in place to reach these targets, and 2050 is a long way away.
Following on, Labours latest manifesto is packed with policies which could greatly increase the environmental situations we currently face in the UK. Labour pledge to protect bees by banning all neonicotinoid pesticides, keep in place the ban on fox hunting, scrap the badger cull and introduce a total ban on the ivory trade. While in the other party Theresa May has made a u-turn on her pledge to ban ivory trade, support fox hunting and feels a ban on pesticides could cause too much damage to agriculture, ignoring the fact a bee die out would mean an agricultural die out.
It is clear that the two parties offer different views and different solutions for the UK’s biggest environmental concerns. However it must be put into consideration that at the moment these policies are all talk, we are not too know whether or not these policies will be put into place and carried out as suggested.
This article is not to persuade people to vote one way or the other, it is simply laying out the differing opinions and ideas both parties have on truly important situations. You must make your own decision on who to vote for by judging how each party will affect your life with all of its policies, not just environmental. However from what I have read it seems to me that Labour would offer a better chance of creating a more sustainable country in the future when it comes to the environment.
Whatever happens in the election it is important not to forget that individually we can help the environmental issues discussed. Using more sustainable transport methods eg walking, eating less meat and more organic produce, and even by discussing these issues in the pub could help the situation.