Manifestos detail the policy objectives a political party would seek to implement if given a mandate to govern by the people at a general election. They can be lengthy documents covering a broad range of policy areas. Here’s an overview of what they had to say on the climate…


Clearly, the green agenda is not a battleground the Conservatives are looking to fight on. 

All of the other major parties have made much stronger commitments to reduce UK emissions and protect the natural environment. The message the Conservatives are seeking to convey is that, if done too quickly, ordinary working people will be the ones who pay for the net zero transition. 

Energy and housing

The Conservative Party are planning to facilitate annual licensing rounds for oil and gas production from the North Sea, to protect high-skilled and well-paid jobs in the industry. This is hugely disappointing, albeit not particularly surprising. 

The International Energy Agency has been warning that no new oil, gas or coal exploration should have been licensed beyond 2021 for global emissions to reach net zero by 2050. This particular Conservative policy is reckless and would continue to damage the UK’s diminishing reputation as a climate leader on the world stage. 

In addition, if reelected, the Conservatives would build new gas power stations, treble offshore wind capacity and build the first two carbon capture and storage clusters. They have ruled out any new green levies, including frequent flyer levies. 

In another concerning pledge, the party has stated it would reform the Climate Change Committee so that it would have to consider the costs to households in its future climate advice. Balancing the cost of living with climate commitments should be a political function. These judgments should be the prerogative of elected officials, not quangos. 

From an environmental perspective, Conservative housing policy is much more promising. To address the shortage of housing, the Tories are pledging to build 1.6 million homes in England in five years if elected. 

They are the only party to directly mention gentle density within their manifesto. This is crucial to ensuring efficient land use, urban greening and comprehensive public infrastructure to service the needs of these new homes. 

Within inner London, they would seek to raise density levels to those of cities ‘like Paris and Barcelona’. They have also committed to protecting the green belt. 

Regrettably, further commitments to nature are generally vague. 


The Conservative transport policy is rather uninspiring. There is a commitment towards substantial investment in railways, although following previously broken promises over levelling up, Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, there is little reason to believe this would materialise if the Conservatives were to win on July 4th.

There is a vague commitment to support the ‘growth and decarbonisation’ of Britain’s aviation sector, whilst simultaneously supporting domestic flights through Public Service Obligations. 

As one of their strangest policies, local referenda would be required to impose new 20mph speed limits and the creation of new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. These sound like the policy positions of a tired government that no longer knows what it stands for. 


The key themes of the Labour Party manifesto are good government, national security, secure borders and economic stability. Whilst their climate pledges are not bad, they are not central to Labour’s campaign messaging. 

They have calculated that campaigning on issues more often associated with the right of British politics will yield the most fruitful results. This calculation invites a rather worrying conclusion; is climate policy not a vote winner? (here is why it should be!)

Labour’s plan seeks to address climate change whilst simultaneously promoting economic growth, strengthening the UK’s energy security and ensuring that communities are not left behind by the changing nature of UK industry, learning the lessons from Conservative failures in the 1970s and 80s.

Energy and Housing 

Labour wants clean energy by 2030. To do this, they will double onshore wind, triple solar power and quadruple offshore wind by 2030, with the newly founded Great British Energy co-investing alongside energy companies in clean energy production.

The lifetime of existing nuclear power plants would be extended, with a view to building new capacity in the future. Labour is proposing a ‘phased and responsible’ transition in the North Sea. Labour will not revoke existing licences, but no further exploration would take place. 

To address the housing shortage, Labour is proposing building 1.5m new homes and a generation of new towns. Whilst not explicitly mentioned in the manifesto, it is hoped that these would be done in a way that promotes designs with character, as Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has previously alluded to, and gentle density.

Labour are also planning on providing support, in the form of grants and low-interest loans, to help homeowners improve insulation and install solar panels and low-carbon heating. 


The Labour Party have said that “we need to forge ahead with new roads, railways, reservoirs and other nationally significant infrastructure”. 

They would bring the railways back into public ownership and restore the 2030 phase-out for new cars with internal combustion engines, whilst supporting buyers of second-hand electric cars by standardising the information supplied on the condition of batteries. 

Policy on aviation is disappointing. Beyond promoting sustainable aviation fuel, there is no commitment to tax the most frequent flyers more or reduce domestic flights. 


Labour are seeking to improve access to nature and promote biodiversity, creating nine new river walks and three new National Forests. 

Water companies would also be put under special measures to prevent sewage dumping. 


UK-regulated financial institutions and FTSE 100 companies will be mandated to develop and implement credible transition plans that align with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement

Labour has also pledged to reduce waste by moving to a circular economy, although further detail on how exactly is lacking. 


Conservative foreign policy has squandered our climate leadership on the world stage, wasting “a huge diplomatic opportunity”, according to the Labour Party’s manifesto. 

They would create a new Clean Power Alliance, bringing together a coalition of countries at the cutting edge of climate action, with the hope of enhancing clean energy supply chains.

Liberal Democrats 

A key objective of Liberal Democrat climate policy is to offer financial assistance to low and middle-income families to facilitate a pragmatic, rapid and just decarbonisation of the UK economy. 

Energy and housing

On energy, the Lib Dems have committed to 90% clean power by 2030 and net zero by 2045. They want to lead a rooftop solar revolution, requiring all new houses to install solar panels and expanding incentives for homeowners to install solar panels on the existing housing stock, such as a guaranteed fair price for electricity sold back to the grid.

Upgrading the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock is central to Lib Dem climate policy. A ten-year emergency upgrade programme would provide free insulation and heat pumps to help those on low income make their homes warmer and more affordable to run. To alleviate the housing crisis, if elected the Lib Dems have pledged to build ten new ‘garden cities’, although details on exactly how are sparse.

Reneging on the Conservative backsliding, the Lib Dems would reinstate the requirement that all new cars and small vans should be zero-emission by 2030.

Natural environment

Sewage dumping is a big deal for the Liberal Democrats. They have pledged to launch a Clean Water Authority to provide much tougher regulations and mechanisms to hold company executives to account. 

They also have a plan to ‘double nature’ by 2050. This would entail doubling the size of the Protected Area Network, doubling the area of most important wildlife habitats, doubling the abundance of species and doubling woodland cover by 2050. 


The Lib Dems are seeking to transition to a more circular economy that maximises recovery, reuse, recycling and remanufacturing of products. One example of how this would be promoted is by introducing a deposit return scheme for food and drink bottles and containers.

To accelerate the business transition to net zero, the Lib Dems would require all large companies listed on UK stock exchanges to set targets consistent with achieving the net zero goal, and require pension funds to show their portfolio investments are consistent with the Paris Agreement.


There is some good policy on transport from the Lib Dems. Amongst other things, they have pledged to create new cycling and walking networks with a nationwide active travel strategy, cut VAT on public car charging to 5% and review the Conservative cancellation of the northern leg of HS2. 

On aviation, by far the most environmentally damaging mode of transport, they are seeking much tougher regulation. They would ban short domestic flights where a direct rail option taking less than 2.5 hours is available for the same journey, introduce a new super tax on private jet flights and reform the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most. 

All of this is to be welcomed, although further action to reduce the cost of rail fares wouldn’t go amiss (they are currently pledging to ‘freeze rail fares’).

Climate diplomacy

The Liberal Democrats are seeking to restore the UK’s role as a global leader on climate change by restoring international development spending to 0.7% of national income, with tackling climate change a key priority for development spending. 

Furthermore, they would implement the UK’s G7 pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies and would press all OECD countries to agree to end subsidies for foreign fossil fuel projects.


The Greens are proposing the most radical changes to redress the unsustainable nature of modernity. Critics who argue that mainstream parties are all offering different versions of the same policy agenda surely cannot level this accusation towards the Greens. 

Green environmental policy is rooted in deep ecology; a philosophy that recognises the intrinsic value of nature beyond its ability to service the needs of humankind. 

There is a lot to be highly optimistic about, although question marks remain over the practical implementation of some of their policy positions.

Energy and housing

Under the Greens, wind power would provide 70% of the UK’s electricity by 2030. All new homes would be required to maximise the use of solar panels and heat pumps, and new developments would have to ensure that residents are not car-dependent (implying a preference for gentle density). 

All planning applications would be required to include whole-life carbon and energy calculations, hopefully incentivising more appealing architecture that will stand the test of time. 

The Greens would invest heavily in energy storage capacity to ensure the security of supply when there are surges in demand, the wind isn’t blowing or the sun doesn’t shine. 

No new oil and gas licences would be granted, and all fossil fuel subsidies would be ceased. A carbon tax would be introduced under a Green government. This would initially be £120 per tonne, rising to a maximum of £500 per tonne of carbon emitted within 10 years. 

There would be no development of nuclear power stations, and existing power stations in operation would be phased out.


Non-bank financial institutions, such as UK pension funds, investment funds, mutual funds, brokers and insurance companies that sell policies in the UK, will need to remove fossil fuel assets from their investment portfolios, securities transactions and balance sheets by 2030. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will develop targets to eliminate all equities relating to fossil fuel exploitation from the UK stock market and will immediately prohibit the issuing of any new shares for those purposes.

Furthermore, the Greens would introduce a maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public sector organisations and bring utilities back into public ownership. Money not being extracted by shareholders would instead be invested in infrastructure.

Whilst other parties maintain the pretence that unlimited economic growth on a planet of finite resources is possible, the Greens aim to change how success is measured in the economy. They propose new indicators that consider the well-being of people and the planet, tracking our progress toward a greener -and fairer – future.

This would be transformative but would be likely to attract fierce opposition from much of the business community.


A Green government would introduce a new Rights of Nature Act, giving legal personhood to nature, meaning that it could not be exploited for financial gain. The act would also phase out the most harmful pesticides. 

Elected Greens would seek to strengthen and prevent any rollback of existing protections of the Green Belt, National Landscapes and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Greens would seek to introduce a Right to Roam Act for England, accompanied by a new and strengthened Countryside Code which clearly sets out the rights and responsibilities for those accessing nature. 

The target would be to Increase the percentage of UK land protected for nature from 5% to 30% by 2030. Green MPs would champion reintroducing nature into our urban environments, investing in schemes such as street planting of native trees, compulsory hedgehog holes in all new fencing, swift bricks and bee corridors. Additionally, they will prioritise training conservation workers and developing a public service professional path for nature conservation.

Elected Greens also commit to making at least 30% of UK domestic waters into fully protected marine protected areas by 2030. They would seek to ban all destructive fishing practices from Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other domestic waters.

Schools would be required to involve children in growing, preparing and cooking food as part of the core curriculum under a Green government.


Bringing the railways back into public ownership would be a priority. They would invest an additional £19bn over five years to improve public transport, support electrification and invest in new cycleways and footpaths (£2.5m per year); this includes the reallocation of funding earmarked for road building.

Elected Greens would also push for an end to sales of new petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles by 2027 and to the use of petrol and diesel vehicles on the road by 2035. 

They would make road tax proportional to vehicle weight. 20 miles per hour would be the default speed limit on roads in all built-up areas, allowing children, the elderly and disabled people to walk and wheel safely. 

On aviation, Green MPs will campaign for a frequent-flyer levy to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights, a ban on domestic flights for a journey that would take less than three hours by train, an end to the implicit subsidy for flying that results from kerosene being exempt from fuel duty (the carbon tax would apply to all kerosene for aviation sold in the UK) and a halt to any expansion of airport capacity.

Climate diplomacy

According to the Green Party, the UK carries a particular responsibility for its high share of historic global emissions and as a former colonial power. 

Recognising the importance of supporting countries in the Global South to decarbonise their economies and become resilient to climate impacts, Greens will ensure the UK fully delivers its existing climate finance commitments, making sure they are genuinely new and additional to aid spending. Elected Greens would push for the UK to:

  • Go beyond restoring international aid to 0.7% of GNI, raising this to 1% by 2033.
  • Increase the climate finance budget to 1.5% of GNI by 2033, with an additional contribution to a newly established Loss and Damage Fund in order to help climate-vulnerable countries to respond to increasingly severe storms, floods and rising temperatures.
  • Support a new international law against ecocide and stand with those protecting biodiversity globally, including indigenous peoples.
  • Enable the people of the Global South to take the lead on how aid is spent, as those with the most at stake know best how to solve their problems. In some cases, this may mean direct support to affected populations rather than working through authoritarian or corrupt governments.
  • Work within international frameworks and with international partners to remove the burden of debt from the Global South.
  • Make finance and technology available to support the development of environmentally and socially sustainable economies of low-income countries to tackle the causes and impacts of the climate and nature emergencies.

The Greens are opting out of the race to the bottom on tax. They believe that redistributing wealth more equitably is clearly necessary. 

Despite their solid grounding at a local level, they struggle to compete under the first past the post system at general elections.  

They are only seriously targeting 4 seats. Even if they win them all, the policy areas that they have the power to influence in Parliament will be limited. Still, they will look to hold the government to account for building a more sustainable Britain. 


Reform are currently polling at close to 20%, making them too big to ignore. A cursory glance over their manifesto (or ‘contract’, as they term it) makes it clear that this is an anti-environment, climate change denying party. To give you a flavour, their climate policy includes:

  • Scrap net zero
  • Fast track licences for new North Sea oil and gas.
  • Scrap HS2. Ban LTNs. Stop ULEZ.
  • Scrap any subsidies that incentivise rewilding or building solar farms.
  • Cut foreign aid by 50%.
  • Hold a referendum on introducing proportional representation in the house of commons. 

Constitutional change

Under the first past the post system used in general elections in the UK, the majority of votes are wasted. This is because any votes cast for a constituency’s unsuccessful candidates, or for the winner beyond the point that they have already won their seat, do not result in increased parliamentary representation. 

Voters are therefore incentivised to vote for the party that most closely aligns with their values that has a realistic chance of winning the seat, rather than simply the party with whom they most closely align ideologically.

A more proportional electoral system would change this, which would be a win for parties who have a broad base, but not sufficiently geographically concentrated in specific areas to directly translate to seats in the House of Commons.

For the Greens, Reform and the Liberal Democrats, a more proportional system would likely improve their representation in Parliament. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that all three of these parties are calling for electoral reform, advocating for a more representative Parliament. In addition, the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens would lower the voting age to 16, an age demographic who see climate change as a comparatively more important issue than older voters. This would be a win for the climate agenda. In the meantime, voters should consider voting tactically.