Tories ‘given up’ on environment: Climate groups react to Rishi Sunak’s manifesto 

'It reads like the party has given-up on the long-held conservative value of protecting the environment for future generations'

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak took aim at “eco-zealotry” during his speech to launch the Tory Party manifesto today, as the party’s green ambition was subsequently blasted as a “car crash for the planet” by climate groups. 

Environmental organisations have slammed the Conservative party manifesto which includes too few new climate policies and continues the Tories’ trend of pushing against net zero commitments.

During his speech Sunak peddled the line that his party would pursue a more “sensible” approach to net zero transition as he also attacked Labour’s state-backed clean energy plan. His lack of ambition was met with warnings from climate campaigners.

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said: “The Conservatives are attempting the impossible by pledging to maintain global leadership on climate change while walking backwards on the measures needed to reduce carbon emissions.

“This manifesto falls so far short of what’s needed it reads like the party has given-up on the long-held conservative value of protecting the environment for future generations.”

The Tory manifesto rules out any future green levies on bills or taxes on frequent flyers and calls to reform the Climate Change Committee to give it an explicit mandate to consider costs to households and UK energy security in its climate advice to the government. 

Friends of the Earth highlighted several examples where the manifesto misfires on the environment, including the promise of a spending splurge on roads, annual oil and gas licensing and new gas-fired power stations. 

The group also drew attention to a number of discrepancies in the manifesto, including the recommitment to halt nature’s decline by 2030, yet providing no new money or measures to deliver this. As well as a desire to accelerate the roll out of renewable energy, while continuing a de-facto block on onshore wind in England and holding a negative approach to solar farm development. 

Also noted was the party’s backlash at the cost of installing heat pumps, yet it has failed to follow advice from its own National Infrastructure Commission that low-income households should get 100% grants to cover the costs, something the Lib Dems have pledged.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace also laid into the Tories plans and warned household bills could rise under its policies, as well as highlighting the double-standards in the manifesto. 

Greenpeace UK’s policy director, Doug Parr, said: “Silverstone may have been the setting for the launch of this manifesto but it reads like a car crash for the planet. 

“New gas plants and more dependence on the very fossil fuels that caused the cost of living crisis will only result in higher bills, more energy insecurity and increase our climate-wrecking emissions.

Parr added: “We need a clean break from 14 years of failure on climate and nature but this is a manifesto that will drive us further into crisis.

“Where’s the ‘clear plan’ and the ‘bold action’ to seize the green opportunities for lower bills, more jobs and the UK’s global leadership? You can’t have a ‘secure future’ without tackling soaring bills from fossil fuels, and the climate crisis from driving heatwaves, storms and floods and the collapse of our natural world.”

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