'A clear and obvious choice'

Rishi Sunak, the Conservative party leader, is standing for election having served for 18 months as the UK prime minister.

'The manifestos of the two main political parties at the 2024 general election (GE2024) provide a glimpse into the possible worlds that voters will choose to inherit next month.'

The opportunities that action on climate and nature present [include] lower bills, new jobs in clean industries, a more prosperous economy and a safer future for us all.

Labour’s plans for climate and nature have scored four times higher than the Conservatives’, according to a new joint analysis of political party manifestos carried out by Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth. 

The environmental groups warn that if elected the party must draw up much bolder plans to ensure the UK’s domestic and global targets are met, and so that it can fully reap the massive economic rewards offered by the green transition. 

The analysis evaluated the four manifestos against 40 policy recommendations published last autumn by the organisations. The analysis and ranking comes ahead of Wednesday’s head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer on BBC One, and with just ten days to go until polling day. 


The Green Party scored highest with a near perfect score of 39 out of 40 followed by the Liberal Democrats with 32, the Labour Party with 21 and the Conservatives bottom with five. 

The Green Party and Liberal Democrats are committed to raising billions more in taxation, which includes plans to increase taxes on wealth to fund areas such as improving public transport and additional support for international development. 

Both parties suggest they are prepared to borrow more to fund home energy efficiency upgrades, the switch to electric heating and nature restoration – all of which would create thousands of new jobs across the UK and in many instances reduce the cost of living and increase economic growth. 

While the Liberal Democrats offered a stronger plan than Labour on sewage pollution through levers such as taxing water company profits and setting more stringent legal targets, the party failed to commit to ending new oil and gas projects – a major test of international leadership on climate change. This diverges significantly with the Labour Party, which made this a central part of its offer. 

Labour scored particularly well for stating its intention to reduce the UK’s dependence on oil and gas and boost renewables to strengthen energy security, create jobs and cut bills. It also committed to meeting the internationally agreed target to reduce carbon emissions by two-thirds by 2030 and empowering local authorities to deliver a fairer green transition through improved public transport and local nature protection. 

Carla Denyer, Bristol Green Party MP candidate (centre). Jon Craig @JonCraig_Photos / Public Domain


But the party has not yet committed to the scale of funding needed for greener farming, cheaper public transport, or to upgrade cold, carbon-leaking homes as fast as is needed. The party has also stayed quiet on upholding the right to protest, despite the Conservative government’s recent crackdown via draconian legislation. 

The opportunities that action on climate and nature present [include] lower bills, new jobs in clean industries, a more prosperous economy and a safer future for us all.

Meanwhile the Conservative Party’s manifesto scored far worse than Labour’s, the Liberal Democrats’ and the Green Party’s. The Tory manifesto instead doubled down in trying to make climate and nature a wedge issue by committing to licence new fossil fuels on an annual basis, ban measures to clean up toxic air, and spark a bonfire of ‘red tape’ when it comes to protecting the environment. 

So far, the climate and nature crises have failed to feature as a priority issue throughout the election campaign, despite recent surveys showing that more than four in five people are concerned about climate change and over two thirds say it will influence how they vote at the ballot box. 

That’s why the green groups are calling on all political parties to strengthen their green policy packages if elected, to ensure the UK delivers on vital upcoming targets to restore and protect climate and nature and reinstate the UK as a leader in the global race to a green economy. 

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “This ranking exposes the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to the environmental pledges on offer. While the Greens and Lib Dems showcase what can be done to deliver a green and prosperous future with enough political will, it’s the stark chasm between the two main parties that’s most telling.


“Labour set out a clear vision for a bright future with lower bills and clean energy, while generating hundreds of thousands of jobs and cutting emissions – helping to tackle the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the Conservatives’ divisive proposal will deliver the very opposite: more fossil fuels, more toxic air pollution and more climate-wrecking emissions that will hit the poorest hardest. 

“The manifestos of the two main parties provide a glimpse into the possible worlds that voters will choose to inherit next month. And, when it comes to climate leadership and supporting workers and communities to benefit from the green transition, there’s a clear and obvious choice.” 

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said: "It’s encouraging that Labour is 100 per cent committed to delivering on the internationally agreed goal to reduce emissions by more than two-thirds by 2030. This is vital if the UK is to play its part in the global effort to avert runaway climate breakdown. 

“Labour must develop additional policies to those in its manifesto and come up with a robust strategy for funding vital measures to make sectors like farming and housing greener. It should also draw on some of the policy ideas proposed by the Lib Dems and Green Party if elected – namely those that ensure the green transition is fair and equitable. 

“If growth is the party’s mantra, then it must seize the many opportunities that action on climate and nature present – such as lower bills, hundreds of thousands of new jobs in clean industries, a healthier, more prosperous economy and a safer future for us all.”

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth.

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