Tomorrow (if you haven’t already taken the postal vote option) you’ll hopefully be taking yourself down to your local polling station.
For many it feels like we could be at important a turning point politically. Personally, who to vote for in this election has been the easiest choice so far since I first got to officially mark down my X in 1992. My choice has been made on a number of different fronts: the economy and the current job situation, education and the potential school life my children will have, plans for national security and more.
However for me probably the biggest issue is how the different parties propose to deal with the climate change chaos that we are about to face.
The Ask the Climate Question coalition organised a debate between Ed Miliband, Greg Clark, Simon Hughes and Darren Johnson. The event also featured video blogs from the leaders Brown, Cameron and Clegg available in the Independent.
Last Monday was the election agenda’s ‘Climate Change Day’ and the three main parties published their green’ manifestos:
To sum up:
- Set target for a zero-carbon UK, but allow 10% of emissions to be offset overseas.
- Spend £3.1bn in the first year on a green jobs stimulus which will lead to 100,000 jobs.
- Tax planes, not passengers, to discourage empty flights, and tax short-haul flights more if trains or coaches are available.
- A road-pricing scheme, making motorists pay for their use, offset by scrapping the vehicle excise duty tax disc.
- Tax financial transactions and aviation and shipping emissions to help poorer countries moderate and adapt to climate change.
- Rule out a new generation of nuclear power on the grounds of expense – a “big hole” in electricity generation, says Labour.
- Scrap the new Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decision-making to local people – risks delays to renewable energy projects.
- Commit the UK to a target of 40% emissions cut by 2020, breaking step with the EU.
- Cut rail fares and make Network Rail refund one-third of ticket cost if rail replacement bus services are used.
- £400 eco cashback scheme for new double glazing, boilers or solar panels.
- Double woodland by 2005 and policies to “increase tranquillity” in the countryside.
- Prevent “garden-grabbing” development by designating them as greenfield sites.
- Introduce an Emissions Performance Standard to set a legal limit on the emissions from power stations.
- Deliver a 10 per cent cut in central government carbon emissions within 12 months of coming to office.
- Create four carbon capture and storage equipped power plants;
- Deliver an offshore electricity grid and establish at least two Marine Energy Parks.
- Allow communities that host renewable energy projects like wind farms to keep the additional business rates they generate for six years.
- Provide incentives for smaller-scale energy generation.
- Putt in place supply guarantees in the gas and electricity markets – ensuring that sufficient electricity generating capacity is maintained and setting an obligation on gas suppliers to ensure that supplies are in place throughout the year.
- Reform the Climate Change Levy to provide a floor price for carbon, delivering the right climate for investment.
- Transform electricity networks with ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology.
- Clear the way for new nuclear power stations – provided they receive no public subsidy.
- Create a ‘Green Deal’, giving every home up to £6,500 worth of energy improvement measures – paid for out of the savings made on fuel bills.
- Ensure that every energy bill provides information on how to move to the cheapest tariff offered by their supplier and how their energy usage compares to similar households.
- Reform the Post Office Card Account to give up to 4 million people access to lower tariffs.
- Use industrial policy, which has seen wind turbine and electric car makers invest in the UK, to create 400,000 green jobs by 2015.
- Use “active government” – ie intervention – in markets to deliver a low-carbon energy sector.
- Up to £5,000 discount for electric cars and 100,000 charging points by 2015.
- Reduce aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050.
- Ban all recyclable and biodegradable waste from landfill.
- Back a third runway at Heathrow, but rule out any other new runway until 2015.
- Back new coal power stations without requiring that all their carbon emissions are captured and stored.
- £100 extra towards energy bills for those over 75.
- Prosecution for a car owner if litter is thrown from it, plus seizure of cars used for fly-tipping.
- Treble the number of secure bicycle parking spaces at railway stations.
- Ban wild animals in circuses and maintain the fox-hunting ban.
The three main parties have much to say on climate issues. I haven’t mentioned other parties in these posts but it seems wrong to not mention the natural party of choice for many environmentalists, the Green Party, who have green policy at the heart of their manifesto.
Who you vote for, whether it be a strategic vote to keep another party out or a heart felt vote, potentially has the power to change the UK. Whatever you do use your vote wisely, but most of all use your vote.