It’s THE issue of our age – perhaps even the issue of our species – so the increased attention on the environment in this election is long overdue. And with the experts warning again and again that we need strong leadership with urgent, radical policies, the actions of our next government will be critical in defining our future.
Which is why I almost feel it’s a luxury to vote on the basis of anything else. To be blunt (and however passionately I might feel about other issues), what does it matter if we’re in or out the EU, have a privatised or totally nationalised NHS, or support Trident or disarmament, if our planet’s dying under our feet?
Obviously, then, I want to know which party has the strongest green credentials. Greenpeace has a good comparison page, where each party’s environmental policies are assessed in four areas:
- how much money they’re pledging (a good reflection of how seriously they’re taking the issue)
- how they’re going to make transport and homes more efficient, and push for renewable power
- how they’ll address farming and the terrifying loss of diversity
- and how they intend to not just lead the world in the future, but also take responsibility for our past.
And here’s the final results table:
Friends of the Earth agrees: they say the Greens, Lib Dems and Labour manifestos would seriously tackle climate change, while the Conservative policies are ‘generally less ambitious, entirely absent, or in some cases actively damaging.’
Arguably, though, a better way of judging a party is not by their promises, but by their actions. The Guardian has produced a revealing interactive graph of every MP, scoring each one according to their cumulative voting history on multiple green issues:
It’s not hard to see a pattern – and one which explains why, after a decade of Tory Government, we’re still lacking the environmental leadership that the experts say is so desperately needed. After all, the Conservatives are almost defined by their ideological distaste for the very market interventions we’re now told are so critical.
So – unsurprisingly – if it’s strong environmental policies I’m after, I should vote Green. But what if there’s just no chance of your local Green candidate winning, even to guide a coalition government, and you’re considering putting pragmatism above principle? Or if, as is the case in my constituency, there’s just no Green candidate?
The choice then, surely, is between Labour and the Lib Dems. Which in my case means perhaps I can allow myself the luxury of considering other issues – even if that’s just keeping out the Tories. Because it’s clear that a Conservative win would be the planet’s loss. Which of course means our loss, now and possibly forever.