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Climate Change is a Player in the UK Elections
Amanda Reed, 30 Apr 10

The United Kingdom general election will be held next Thursday, May 6. There has been a lot of talk about the UK’s role in climate change by the British political parties and the media. For example, here are videos of the three main party leaders addressing the “Ask The Climate Question” debate:

Conservative Party leader David Cameron (3min 14sec)

“Yes our planet is under threat, but on our side we’ve got millions of people and thousands of businesses across Britain who really want to make the low carbon economy a reality.”

Labour Party leader Gordon Brown (2min 19sec)

“We want to build a Britain where we have low carbon homes, low carbon buildings, and low carbon transport…we want to make the most also of our cooperation with Europe. We believe that Europe, working together, can reduce carbon emissions by 30% over the next few years...We believe also that Europe can lead the way to developing a world deal that will finally stick.”

Liberal Democrats Party leader Nick Clegg (1min 35sec)

“Climate change scientists now agree that time is running out. The next Parliament is the last chance we have as a nation to introduce the bold measures, the radical legislation needed to set us on a path of green and sustainable growth in the future...This is our last chance but this election is our great opportunity.”

In his talk above, Gordon Brown makes reference to the Labour Party’s manifesto. The Guardian has written up a good comparison of the Labour Party’s and Liberal Democrat Party’s manifestos. The Guardian provides a bullet list of the main “headliners,” “controversies,” and “crowd pleasers” in each manifesto. Here’s an excerpt:

Labour pledges to

* Use "active government" – ie intervention – in markets to deliver a low-carbon energy sector.
* Back new coal power stations without requiring that all their carbon emissions are captured and stored.
* [credit] £100 extra towards energy bills for those over 75.

The Liberal Democrats pledge to

* Set target for a zero-carbon UK, but allow 10% of emissions to be offset overseas.
* Commit the UK to a target of 40% emissions cut by 2020, breaking step with the EU.
* [develop a] ₤400 eco cashback scheme for new double glazing, boilers or solar panels.

For more information about the parties’ manifesto differences see “Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg Vie for Green Vote with Eco Manifestos.” (The Conservative Party didn’t develop a ‘green manifesto,’ but did present a “Quality of Life” manifesto [PDF] a day after the other two parties, which is why it is not included in the comparative summary in the article above.)

For more information on the coverage of the UK elections check out the Guardian’s Adam Vaughan’s live blog from this past Monday, in which he covers two more climate change debates:

The environment is set to climb further up the election agenda today...the three main parties and the Greens will clash swords again, first at 10am for an event in central London organised by Ask the Climate Question, a coalition of environment and development NGOs including Greenpeace and Oxfam. Nuclear power, airport expansion and climate change scepticism are likely to be three of the flashpoints for the speakers, Ed Miliband for Labour, Greg Clark for the Conservatives, Simon Hughes for the Liberal Democrats and Darren Johnson for the Green Party.
Shortly afterwards, at 2:15pm this afternoon, the four will lock heads again during a special environment debate on the BBC Two's Daily Politics Show.

As an American observer it is interesting to see so much constructive dialogue on climate change in political debates. Indeed, by American standards the British debate is far ahead, even if it's not as far as it ultimately needs to be. Andy Atkins, the director of Friends of the Earth in the UK, makes a similar observation about the state of the political climate change conversation and how much more should be done. He says (as quoted by Vaughan in his blog post noted above):

Developing a low carbon economy is essential for the UK's long-term security and prosperity - and must be an urgent priority for the next Government.

The Liberal Democrats have the most ambitious and integrated environmental commitments of the three main parties, with Labour and the Conservatives lagging behind.

But none of the main party manifestos are bold enough to meet the challenge of tackling climate change and seizing the huge economic benefits of creating a greener, safer future.

Climate change is the biggest challenge the planet faces and the decisions the next Government makes will have a major impact on generations to come - party leaders must do more to make it a central issue.

All party leaders must show their commitment to tackling climate change by explaining clearly how they will keep our environment safe and healthy, and make it cheaper and easier for us all to go green, in the final phase of the campaign.

That's an observation that rings true in many other places around the world and is a plea worth spreading!

Editor's Note: Alex Steffen has previously written about the UK’s impressive political plans for climate change on Worldchanging; see “UK Conservatives' Blueprint for a Green Economy” for more.

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i must admit i'm suprised to read this. It's kind of a pre economic crash discussion. Yes up until Copenhagen we'd made some very positive political steps but during the election campaigns the climate had nearly droppped off the policy map. Today as the results are now in and it's a hung parliment but its looking like the conservatives have the upper hand. You should be aware that;

""The poll of 141 Tory candidates in winnable seats found that
"reducing Britain's carbon footprint" was rated the lowest of 19
possible priorities for a Cameron's conservative government."

slightly scary. but anyway it's all good. it's down to local people in local grops to take the lead in solving this and the more we get hoodwinked into thinking 'the government' will do it for us the worse off we'll be. this is not to say that government doesn't have a role to play, it's all hands on deck.

Posted by: shane on 7 May 10

A fan is situated under the bonnet of the car which generates power. This is then stored in a battery.

The car has to be moving to work. So what will happen if the car runs out of power? The wind will go through the grill and then start the fan which creates power that will be stored in the battery for later use
Also the power, that the brakes create when used, will power to the battery.
The car has dynamos in the wheels to work the lights like the old bicycles used to have. Come on bring eletric car in now. And stop landfill sites. And use sewish plants to make power for houses and drain water. I love to set a walk to rise money for it maybe we could get people that can do to

Thank you Clare Mcvety

Posted by: Clare Mcvety on 29 May 10

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