Environment forgotten in election campaigning, practitioners say

30th April 2015

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  • Renewable ,
  • Politics & Economics ,
  • England


Allan Cochrane

Political parties have not given enough attention to environment and sustainability concerns in the election campaign, according to 89% of respondents to the latest IEMA pre-election poll.

A majority of members say that long-term sustainability issues have been too low on the agenda, or completely missing from debate.

More than two-thirds (68%) say a discussion of the risks posed by a changing climate has been missing, while 55% believe resource threats should receive greater prominence, and 49% feel there should be more debate on renewable energy.

There has been very little movement in practitioners' backing for who they believe is the strongest leader on climate issues, according to the IEMA polls, which have been running weekly since February. The leaders of the three main parties still collectively gained just 22%, a reduction of 1% since the first poll. Natalie Bennett continues to top the leaderboard, with 45% saying she demonstrates the strongest leadership on climate issues.

The majority of respondents (93%) want to see environment and sustainability issues removed from party politics during the next parliament. Instead, critical issues should have cross-party support similar to recent calls to de-politicise the NHS.

Josh Fothergill, policy lead on environmental impact assessments at IEMA, said: "There is strong feeling from the profession that some really critical issues have not had appropriate prominence during the election campaign.

"Each party had a real opportunity to bring these important issues to the fore. Doing so would have been a wise move as these issues are absolutely vital to the future of the UK's economy and wellbeing of the UK electorate," he said.

The incoming government needs to focus on these issues during their first 100 days in parliament, or risk losing out on the growth opportunities of a sustainable economy, he added.

The latest survey results also find that 89% of respondents strongly feel that there is a need for an independent body to scrutinise the government's progress on sustainability, similar to the existing Committee on Climate Change, but with a significantly broader scope.

There was also strong support (92%) for alternative measures such as natural capital and wellbeing to be adopted as measures of national success and prosperity alongside gross domestic product (GDP).


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