Who To Vote For In The EU Elections If You Care About Climate Crisis

Climate breakdown took centre-stage this year after teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes went global.

But don’t think that it’s time to sit back and let Greta make a difference on her own.

If you care about the planet, then get out and vote in the European elections tomorrow (May 23).

Contrary to some popular views, your vote does count and this summary of how the key parties stand on the environment is here to help you choose.

(Apologies: This guide does not include parties from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as I couldn’t include them all in time).

Change UK

This is the group which was created by former Labour and Conservative MPs as the Independent Group – and later rebranded as Change UK.

The anti-Brexit party prioritises NHS funding and has a catalogue of pledges to tackle climate change, including arguing to reach carbon ‘net zero’ emissions at least by 2050 with a stretch target ambition for 2045 if the evidence shows it is feasible.

They also commit to supporting and developing a diverse energy base which makes use of a range of renewables, including hydrogen and tidal power.

The party importantly ‘demands a People’s Vote so the people of the UK can say they want to remain in the EU’.

Conservatives and Unionists Party

“Conservative governments since 2015 have systematically dismantled the policies put in place under the Climate Change Act of 2008 and increased public spending on fossil fuels”, so says Abby Innes, Assistant Professor of Political Economy at LSE .

The number one challenge in their 2017 manifesto was to create a strong, high growth economy, though maximising growth, but this is ‘a recipe for accelerated ecological disaster’, she says.

However, the party website says they will tackle the ‘scourge of plastics’, such as legislation to ban microbeads and a charge on plastic bags.

They also vow ‘clean air the next generation’ by supporting local authorities with funding to tackle air pollution at busy road junctions, a one off tax on diesel cars and stronger protections for animal welfare.

But they have developed the shale industry in this country and allowed fracking and other non-renewable fossil fuel industries to continue.

The Tories believe a Brexit deal should not be subject to a second referendum and vow to deliver the ‘Brexit the people voted for in 2016’.

The Green Party

As you may expect given its name,  the Green Party addresses climate change upfront on its manifesto, stating it aims “to stop climate change before it is too late”.

It says we must be Carbon Neutral by 2030 and talks about the need to “deliver a renewables revolution” while also meeting energy and employment needs.

Controversially it includes a carbon tax, taxes on air travel, phasing out fossil fuels and a “Green New Deal” that would mean fundamental lifestyle changes which would create jobs through investment in sustainable infrastructure.

The party wants to remain in the EU and start the ‘genuine social and economical transformation this country needs’ by ‘taxing the rich’ and fight corporate tax evasion and avoidance to ‘end poverty everywhere’.

They have also pledged to ‘stand with migrants’ by expanding the refugee and asylum policy.

Labour

They are calling for a second referendum and have promised to work to ‘get us out of the Brexit mess, to stop climate change before it’s too late to rebuild our communities.’

The Labour Party states the environment is “not something we can separate from ourselves” and “it is clear that our current economic model is threatening the foundations on which human well being depends.”

It seeks to draw a clear dividing line with the government over key aspects of clean energy policy, promising to emulate France and Germany in banning fracking, approve the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, and “remove the barriers to onshore wind”.

However according to Business Green the document also waters down a previous target to ensure 60 per cent of the UK’s energy, including heat, comes from renewable and low carbon sources by 2030, pledging instead that the target would be met “within 12 years of coming to power”.

Aside from the environment, the Labour party is campaigning to honour the result of the 2016 referendum, despite efforts by remain supporters.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party has also said ‘Labour backs the option of a public vote on May’s deal’.

Liberal Democrats

James Cameron and 21 other leading green business owners and environmentalists backed the Liberal Democrats in the UK general election.

Their environmental policy leads with zero carbon by 2050, a Green Transport Act and a Green Buildings Act, to set new energy efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035.  

Their agricultural policy argues for a ‘National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food’.

They are leading with their ‘Bollock to Brexit’ campaign and wants a second referendum to overturn the 2016 election.

A vote for the Liberal Democrats has been billed as a vote to stop Brexit.

They are committed to freedom of movement within the EU. The Lib Dems have also vowed to fight discrimination and promoting equality and gender rights.

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage’s party makes no mention of any policies related to climate change on its website.

It hasn’t even published an election manifesto. When asked about this at an event to launch the party’s MEP candidates, Farage said, “As far as the manifesto is concerned, we are fighting the 23rd of May on the issue of democracy.”

The party has pledged to stop any ‘dodgy deal’ between May and Corbyn and will ‘push for Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms’ without a deal with the EU.

The Brexit Party refuse to pay the £39 billion divorce bill to the EU and wants any winning candidate to take part in Brexit negotiations.

Women’s Equality Party

The party tackles climate change under the heading “women at the heart of avoiding a climate catastrophe” and highlights the impact that the “global climate emergency” will have on women.

It says: “Women are twice as likely as men to be among the poorest of any population and are as a result most affected by climate-related disasters”.

It aims to assist women who have already been affected by climate change by making sure that development funding reaches the communities where it is needed.

The party also says it will “urgently work with European Green MEPs and climate change scientists on the actions needed to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030”.

Ukip

Gerard Batten’s party has just four paragraphs on the environment.

It states: “We should separate the dogma of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change from environmentalism – care for and protection of the environment”.

It’s first policy is that: “Post Brexit, UKIP would re-establish the successful local drainage supervisory boards run by those most affected by flooding. Farmers and riparian  landowners must be allowed to undertake the necessary work on their land to prevent flooding without penalties.”

UKIP wants to leave the EU without a deal and without paying the exit payment.

Candidates include controversial YouTuber Carl Benjamin, who has refused to apologise for saying he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ Labour MP Jess Phillips in 2016.

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