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General Election 2024: Divergent Climate Policies of Political Parties

The next general election in the UK will take place on 4 July 2024 as announced by the Prime Minister. It has been almost five years since the last election. Since the Conservatives came to power a lot has changed for the UK`s Net Zero policies, one of them being to delay the date for Net Zero from 2030 to 2050.

Therefore, the next election is crucial for the UK`s approach toward Net Zero. Let’s explain the manifestos of three main parties in the UK regarding the environment, Net Zero and energy sector in this article.

Lib Dems Manifesto

The Liberal Democrats aim to achieve Net Zero by 2045, setting a more ambitious target than both Labour and the Conservatives by five years. Their manifesto places climate change prominently as the third point, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the climate crisis at the core of their policies. They criticise the Conservative government for a lack of prompt and ambitious responses to climate issues. Key initiatives include expanding solar panel installations and ensuring that 90% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. They also propose planting 60 million trees annually to restore woodlands and introducing a Clean Air Act in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

Key Highlights:

  • A 10-year plan to ensure all new homes are zero-carbon, with heat pumps and insulation prioritized for low-income households.
  • Empowering local governments with more authority and clearly defined sustainability duties.
  • Restoring the UK’s overseas development allocation to 0.7% of GDP, which will focus on climate change mitigation.
  • Transforming water firms into public benefit organizations, prohibiting bonuses for executives until leaks and discharges cease, and replacing Ofwat with a stricter regulator.
  • Strengthening the Office for Environmental Protection and increasing funding allocations for the Environment Agency and Natural England.
  • Supporting carbon capture trials in the steel and cement industries.
  • Mandating sizable publicly traded companies to set Net Zero targets, create nature-positive transition plans, and provide monthly progress updates.

Conservative Manifesto

The Conservative Party lists Net Zero as the tenth point in their manifesto, indicating a lower prioritization compared to the Liberal Democrats. Their plans include increasing offshore wind capacity, enhancing carbon capture and storage capabilities, and rapidly scaling up nuclear power with new projects. They aim to reach Net Zero equitably and plan to reduce green levies on household energy bills annually. Conservatives also propose reforming the Climate Change Committee and maintaining the energy price cap while supporting solar installations on brownfield sites.

Key Highlights:

  • Supporting the integration of ISSB standards and continuing the expansion of the TCFD mandate for corporate sustainability disclosure.
  • Reducing green levies and policy costs on bills below 2023 levels.
  • Proposing a parliamentary vote on the next phase of the UK’s Net Zero transition by 2050, with consultations from the Climate Change Committee.
  • Legislating to protect high-paying jobs in the industry and ensuring annual licensing rounds for North Sea oil and gas production.
  • Surpassing goals to become leaders in clean technology and supporting households moving forward.
  • Develop two large carbon capture clusters online by 2030 and progress to the next tranche of projects.

Labour Manifesto

Labour’s manifesto identifies making Britain a clean energy superpower as one of its initial missions, viewing the clean energy transition as a solution to the cost of living crisis. They accuse the Conservatives of failing to capitalize on the opportunities due to ideological reasons and inadequate energy security strategies, which became evident during the energy crisis caused by the Ukraine invasion. Labour criticizes the Conservatives for banning new onshore wind investments and not building new nuclear power stations. Their vision includes improving access to nature and promoting biodiversity.

Key Highlights:

  • Tripling solar power, quadrupling offshore wind, and doubling onshore wind by 2030.
  • Establishing a publicly owned corporation, Great British Energy, to provide power and reduce costs.
  • Ensuring a stricter regulatory framework that prioritizes consumers and attracts the necessary capital.
  • Creating new high-quality jobs in partnership with businesses and trade unions, making Britain a leader in sustainable energy.
  • The Warm Homes Plan to offer grants and low-interest loans for insulation and upgrades like solar panels and low-carbon heating.
  • Aligning the institutional policy-making structure with carbon limits and Net Zero objectives.
  • Imposing stricter regulations on failing water companies to ensure clean water.
  • Allocating £1 billion to accelerate carbon capture deployment.
  • Requiring FTSE 100 companies and UK-regulated financial institutions to develop and implement credible transition plans and report on pay gaps for people with disabilities and people of colour.


The major UK political parties hold divergent views on climate policy. The Conservatives, led by the current Prime Minister in Rishi Sunak, support new oil and gas projects and a gradual transition to renewable energy, emphasizing energy security and fiscal responsibility.

Labour, under Keir Starmer, advocates for substantial investments in renewable energy through a publicly owned company, aiming to boost the economy and significantly reduce emissions. Despite differences in rhetoric, both parties share fundamental goals of increasing renewable energy use and achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Smaller parties like the Reform Party oppose renewable subsidies and the Net Zero target, while the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens,and Plaid Cymru generally support more aggressive climate policies.

Although there is a consensus on the need for climate action, the approaches and urgency levels vary, indicating potential future policy divisions that could be more significant than the current disagreements.

Environmentalists are concerned that these policy differences might lead to profound implications for the UK’s climate strategy.

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