In Depth

What the main parties are promising to do for the environment

Major parties want emissions reductions - but have different target dates

The impact of air pollution on health is far worse than previously thought, a study has shown.

Pollution is already associated with strokes, brain cancer, miscarriage and mental health problems, says The Guardian. Now researchers at Harvard claim in the British Medical Journal that the impact could be even wider.

How much voters care about pollution – and environmental issues more broadly – appears to correlate with their party allegiance. A Sky News poll found that while 58% of those who voted Labour at the last election said climate change mattered “a great deal”, the same was true of just 30% of Tories.


Labour has announced plans to plant two billion trees in England by 2040 if they win the general election, claiming its plan will provide 20,000 new green jobs in forestry management and timber trades.

The party would introduce a new levy on oil and gas companies to “make the transition to a clean economy”, and plan to get 90% of electricity and 50% of heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030.

Labour says it will build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 onshore wind turbines and “enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches”, reports The Times.

Jeremy Corbyn says his party would introduce a new Clean Air Act if elected, bringing the UK in line with World Health Organization limits for pollutants. However, the party has abandoned its pledge to reach “net zero” emissions by 2030, instead aiming for a “substantial majority” of UK emissions to be reduced.


The Tory manifesto promises to introduce a new Environmental Bill to “protect and restore our natural environment”.

The bill would set up a new Office For Environmental Protection and introduce new legal targets for air quality. The party has also pledged to reach carbon net-zero by 2050, and will put £640m towards a new Nature for Climate fund.

The Conservatives say they will restrict exports of British waste to other nations, and would introduce a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging.

But a new report from Greenpeace puts the Tories near the bottom of the pile for their environmental policies. “The party’s continued support for a number of polluting industries, such as aviation, oil and gas, and massive spending commitments for new road-building are at odds with their net-zero target,” says The Independent.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dem manifesto calls for 80% of the UK’s electricity supply to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The Lib Dems want the UK to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 and have called for an EU-wide commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Jo Swinson’s party has also set out plans to bring back a Whitehall department for climate change, revive the idea of a Green Investment Bank, and appoint a new chief secretary to the Treasury to oversee spending to help meet the zero-carbon pledge.

The party has further pledged to plant 60 million new trees if it wins power.

Green Party

The Greens claim the environment is “at the heart of everything” they do, pledging to put £100bn a year by 2030 into policies that tackle the climate crisis.

The Greens would introduce a Green New Deal Bill to “get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030”. Their manifesto also includes pledges to build 100,000 new zero-carbon homes for social rent each year, while improving tenants’ rights and lowering rents.

Co-leader Jonathan Bartley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “When we’re facing an existential threat, we don’t hold back, we know that we have to tackle it. Frankly if the climate were a bank, we’d have bailed it out by now.”

The Greens have pledged to plant 700 million trees by 2030.


The SNP wants a 75% reduction of all emissions by 2030, net-zero carbon by 2040 and net zero for all emissions by 2045, says The Guardian. The party plans to “phase out” petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032.

It will introduce a deposit return scheme for drink containers – similar to the German Pfand system – to help promote recycling and prevent littering.

And the party is against fracking and underground coal gasification, having already banned it in Scotland.

Brexit Party

Nigel Farage’s Brexiteers have promised to plant “millions of trees to capture CO2”  and promote a global tree-planting initiative at the UN - though it hasn’t given a number on the trees it aims to plant.

The party would ban the export of waste to countries across the world to be burnt, buried or dumped at sea.

Party leaders will face questions on the climate crisis in a debate on Channel 4 News on Thursday 28 November. Emergency On Planet Earth, 7pm on Channel 4.


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