The stage is set for the most inspiring, and most dispiriting, election in modern British history. A December 12th date is in the diary and an election is coming well ahead of the new January 31st Brexit deadline date. That election will prove a critical milestone on the UK’s journey towards building a modern, clean, and healthy 21st century net zero emission economy – a celebration of British leadership and brilliance, a democratic competition to establish the most effective decarbonisation path for one of the world’s most influential economies. A host of factors are converging to ensure the main parties launch a genuine competition to attract the growing constituency of voters who regard environmental issues as one of their top concerns. Polling shows the environment in general – and the climate crisis in particular – are more salient than ever before, especially among younger voters. Businesses and campaigners are loudly demanding that more ambitious decarbonisation policies are delivered, while Extinction Rebellion and striking students have demonstrated an unerring ability to hijack the news agenda. The government will be cognisant of analyses from the last election that suggest a failure to neutralise social media accusations that the Tories were plotting to bring back fox hunting and turbocharge fracking may have cost them seats in key marginals. And the UK now has a cross-party endorsed and legally-binding net zero emission target and parliamentary-declared climate emergency, both of which demand a credible policy response. The Tories will opt for a combination of techno-optimism (expect lots of mentions of electric cars, offshore wind farms, and nuclear fusion) coupled with a genuinely solid track record and a wariness about excessive costs. Labour will slam the government’s missed targets and inaction in key areas, while ramping up its Green New Deal rhetoric in support of detailed plans that are far more credible and coherent than the muscle memory of nationalisation pledges sometimes suggests. The Lib Dems will promise a pro-business radical centrism, as evidenced by Jo Swinson’s recent proposals for a corporate environmental duty of care alongside significant state funding for a massive national energy efficient building retrofit programme. And the Greens and the Nationalist Parties will put their own spin on equally ambitious decarbonisation plans.
Business Green 30th Oct 2019 read more »