PRmoment Leaders PRCA PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRmoment Awards Winners North ESG & Sustainability Awards 2024 PRmoment Masterclass: Agency Growth Forum

Manifestos and mudslinging mask climate gulf ahead of election

This has been a relatively quiet news week for the UK’s election. Yet, the whole campaign has been a quiet one on the environment. 

Steve Earl, partner at Boldt
Steve Earl, partner at Boldt

A recent piece in The Guardian asked why the UK’s General Election was not shaping up as more of a vote on climate, labelling the lack of focus on it by all parties “disappointing”.

It covered news that 400 scientists had written to political leaders urging ambitious action. But as the manifestos emerged, all were quieter on environmental matters that may have been imagined a few months ago when policy shifts made headlines.

Some businesses have already made their perspectives clear: that they will continue with their transitions to help address climate change, regardless of the election outcome. Many others seem to have been keeping a low profile on climate ahead of the polls though.

Another Guardian piece this week saw editors of four sustainability publications analyse the climate policy differences of the four primary parties (swerving Reform UK, though not much to analyse there) and concluded that the gap between the two main parties could “hardly be any wider”.

It argued that the Conservatives wanted to cut the cost of the net zero transition for voters, while Labour focused on investment to achieve it.

A BBC InDepth article by climate editor Justin Rowlatt aimed to unpick the policies and pledges of the main two, concluding that the primary difference on climate is that the Conservatives are more cautious about the speed of transition while Labour is more optimistic, heralding investment in green industries.

But climate is lower down the list of frontline issues that parties intend to campaign on during the remaining couple of weeks. The BBC piece argued that the mudslinging over climate change posed longer-term risks post-election. “Rhetoric does matter and they fear that what is essentially a matter of emphasis now could fracture into significant policy divisions in future,” it said.

This Carbon Brief piece has a handy interactive grid outlining the main party stances by environmental topic — even the Reform one.

Even so, this election is proving to be noticeably quieter on climate than might have been expected. The FT even reported that Greenpeace activists had started doorknocking to state their case and fill the void.

With the EU election outcome already known, Reuters summed up what it may mean for the green transition, although the reality is that nothing is yet clear.

In the UK though, the situation seems to be that while the parties have turned down the volume on climate ahead of the election, the two main contenders have a growing gulf between them on the action they would take if elected.

The Conservative manifesto promises to fast-track next-generation nuclear and to put decisions on the next phase of the UK’s net-zero transition to a Parliamentary vote. The Labour manifesto pledges to make the country a “clean energy superpower”.

Businesses will no doubt be keeping a close eye on what is said and predicted between now and 4th July. But most will also have long-prepared to engage differently and change their own volume level once the election is decided and future climate pathways become clearer.

Sign up to our weekly ESG related stories by completing the form below.

* All fields are required

Important: Once completing the form we will send you a confirmation link which you will need to click on to confirm your subscription. If you do not receive this email within a couple of minutes please check your spam folder.

Please be assured that we will treat your details with care. We will never sell your details to any third parties and we will never bombard you with unnecessary email alerts.

By signing up to alerts you consent to us sending you twice weekly subscriber emails. You may manage your preferences at any time by emailing or clicking the "manage preferences" link within every newsletter.