June’s vote offers an opportunity for the Conservatives and Labour to fundamentally develop and support low carbon, energy efficient UK business. What choices are corporate leaders being offered at Election 2017? Here’s the Energys Group lowdown on what both of the main parties are promising.
The Conservative manifesto
On energy and efficiency…
Theresa May’s manifesto ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses. ‘As we upgrade our energy infrastructure, we will do it in an affordable way, consistent with that ambition,’ reads the Tory agenda.
‘And because for British companies, an energy efficient business is a more competitive business, we will establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and their bills.
‘After we have left the European Union, we will form our energy policy based not on the way energy is generated but on the ends we desire – reliable and affordable energy, seizing the industrial opportunity that new technology presents and meeting our global commitments on climate change.’
The Conservatives also want a wide range of sources for Britain’s energy production, saying, ‘A diverse energy economy is the best way to stimulate innovation.’
Isn’t mentioned in the Conservative manifesto.
Doesn’t gain a mention in an environmental context, though NHS Sustainability and Transformation plans are noted, along with the long term sustainability of the Scottish economy.
The Labour manifesto
On energy and efficiency…
Page 20 of the Labour manifesto is entitled ‘Sustainable energy.’ It says Labour policy seeks:
To ensure security of energy supply and ‘keep the lights on.’
To ensure energy costs are affordable for consumers and businesses.
To ensure we meet our climate change targets and transition to a ‘low-carbon economy,’ a phrase the Conservatives don’t mention.
According to Labour, today’s energy system is outdated, expensive and polluting. The party wants to, ‘Take energy back into public ownership to deliver renewable energy, affordability for consumers, and democratic control.’
Energy efficiency doesn’t gain a mention in the Labour manifesto.
This is mentioned in the context of the NHS, but not the environment. Labour does say it is committed to ensuring environmental sustainability in the operations of British businesses around the world.
What does it all actually mean?
EDIE writes; ‘The official Labour Party manifesto has been broadly praised by green groups for including a raft of bold pledges to ramp up renewable energy generation, tackle air quality and embed the Sustainable Development Goals into central government.’
On the Conservative document, Environment Analyst writes: ‘The manifesto, and its pledge to, “leave the UK’s environment in a better shape than it was found,” is almost completely devoid of commitments or ambition to continually improve the UK’s natural environment.’
Describing the environment as ‘found’ is an interesting choice of words, normally used to describe policies inherited from an opposition. This hints Theresa May wants this election to separate her position and policy from the previous Tory administration.
EDIE says: ‘The Conservatives have pledged to maintain the UK’s climate change commitments through enhanced clean technology and energy efficiency funding, but the Party’s manifesto also proposes continued support for the North Sea oil and gas industry and an additional focus on fracking.’
Reading between the lines
On balance, Labour’s manifesto gives environment more space than that of the Conservatives. Then again, the Tory’s paper contains promises, although uncosted, on energy efficiency, and hints that an energy efficient private sector is a priority – which is a very welcome move if it materialises.
For a party sitting in power, who chose an election, the decision to release a manifesto without any detailed costings, given that such figures should easily be to hand, is strange.
It could reflect a certainty that victory is around the corner. Either way, by failing to monetise her promises, Theresa May is asking the corporate electorate to take her on trust.
Her promise on energy efficiency, for example, could be crucial. But it contains no detail on the level of financial support it will offer. More stringent numbers would have done much to further her cause in the low carbon sector.
Polling and the race to the post
Recent polls put the Conservatives ahead. If they triumph at the ballot box, the low carbon sector will have to wait and see what true costings on green policy emerge.
Either way, unfortunately, environment and low carbon remain low priorities across the UK political landscape and until these topics become vote winners (or losers) they will remain well down the agenda.
The Conservative manifesto: click here
The Labour manifesto: click here