The Conservatives have become the second party to launch their programme for government – following the Liberal Democrats manifesto on Monday – which they will be aiming to deliver should they win the election on the 4th of July. In this blog, Ben Goodwin, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA, pulls out some of the relevant pledges set down within the document and looks at how they compare with what the Institute would like to see the next government prioritise.

Much to the disappointment of those of us who have an enduring commitment to the sustainability agenda, the Conservative Party had already made several regressive announcements and decisions over the past 12-18 months.

These included pushing back the date for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035, alongside driving forward with the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill before Parliament was dissolved. Had it achieved royal assent the Bill would have forced mandatory annual licensing rounds for expanded North Sea oil and gas extraction. Seemingly at odds with the UK's long-term climate goals.

But what's made it into the Conservative Party manifesto?

Well, to help deliver energy security, the desire to legislate for North Sea oil and gas extraction is back and appears alongside plans to build new gas power stations. Little surprise there given the direction of travel prior to the announcement of the election.

However, there are also plans to treble offshore wind capacity and build the first two carbon capture and storage clusters, with one based across North Wales and the North West of England, and the other in the North East of England with Teesside and the Humber in the mix.

There is also a commitment to invest £1.1 billion into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support British manufacturing capabilities and boost supply chains.

Overall, the manifesto describes the Conservative Party’s plans on energy as ‘a pragmatic and proportionate approach to net zero’.

On the rural and natural environment side of things the manifesto talks about strengthening regulations to better hold those water companies that are responsible for criminal breaches to account. Fines from water companies would then be invested into river restoration projects.

Other pledges on nature include delivering various tree planting and peatland commitments through the party’s Nature for Climate funding, plus following up on a COP28 commitment to introduce forest risk commodities legislation early in the next Parliament, to tackle the UK’s impact on illegal deforestation internationally.

During the election campaigning period, IEMA have socialised a number of key policy asks that we believe are necessary for the next government to prioritise from day one.

These asks have included setting out the case for a green jobs plan detailing how investment in green jobs and skills will be channeled across different economic sectors so that we have a workforce that can deliver a greener economy.

We have also called for a national circular strategy that draws together the different policy, legislative and regulatory interventions that are needed to help extend the useful life of materials and products that are in circulation across different markets.

Other well-trodden areas that we’ve focused on have included calls for a clear investment and deployment roadmap for onshore wind and for rapid steps to be taken to speed up the process of connecting clean energy projects to the grid.

There are one or two cursory mentions in the manifesto on onshore wind and improving grid connection times, but these don’t feel like areas that have been prioritised. Neither have green jobs and skills, whilst there is no mention of the circular economy.

Our coverage of the launch of the different party manifestos will continue for the remainder of the week, with the Green Party launch expected tomorrow and the Labour Party launch on Thursday.

Watch this space.

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


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