General Election Manifestos 2010: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens

ManifestoAll three main UK parties take climate seriously and promise to reduce emissions and expand low-carbon energy. They all recognise the energy security and employment benefits. The Conservatives say that they would:

… build a greener economy: We will reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions and increase our share of global markets for low carbon technologies.

They accept the statutory target, set in the Climate Change Act (a Labour Act but supported by the Conservative Opposition), to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. The Liberal Democrats go further – they say that the economy should be carbon-neutral overall by 2050.

This article includes direct quotations from the relevant parts of the manifestos of the three main parties on general climate policies, covering investment, taxation, land-use planning, adaptation, the EU, the developing world and forests. Given the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, it also covers Trident (see also 14 April 2010: Beating the bomb). For comparison, it also includes the key parts of the Green Party manifesto. Separate Climate Answers articles cover heat and electricity, including energy efficiency, fuel poverty and energy production, and transport, including rail, aviation and road.

The fact that something is promised in a manifesto obviously does not mean that it will be delivered in government. Even if one Party wins an overall majority (which at the time of writing seems unlikely), there will be many competing priorities for the government and unforeseen events. Nevertheless, manifestos are an important indication of the intended direction of travel, so it is encouraging that Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are agreed that serious steps must be taken to control the climate.



… this wave of low carbon innovation we want to unleash requires investment, so we will create Britain’s first Green Investment Bank – which will draw together money currently divided across existing government initiatives, leveraging private sector capital to finance new green technology start-ups. We will create green individual Savings accounts to help provide the financial backing we need to create a low carbon economy.


The Strategic Investment Fund is supporting important new investment in the nuclear and renewables industries. We will provide incentives for companies to invest through R&D tax credits, and protect and increase the size of capital allowances that help to grow key sectors such as manufacturing.

To ensure Britain’s infrastructure needs are properly resourced, we will work in partnership with the private sector, reforming the regulation of energy to improve incentives for the private sector to invest. We will establish a Green Investment Bank to invest in low-carbon infrastructure, with the Government’s stake funded by the sale of infrastructure assets. The Government will seek to match its contribution with at least £1 billion of private-sector investment.

Liberal Democrats

Allowing individuals to save through our UK Infrastructure Bank, offering stable long-term returns.


Support new institutions like a green investment bank and local community banks in the financial sector, and new ways of investing in the green economy, such as green national savings bonds.



… a credible and sustainable price for carbon is vital if we are to see adequate and timely investment in new electricity generation. Whatever the carbon content of electricity generated, operators considering new investments in projects with a life of several decades need to know where they stand. We will reform the Climate Change Levy to provide a floor price for carbon, delivering the right climate for investment in low carbon energy production.

We will consult on the introduction of a ‘fair fuel Stabiliser’. This would cut fuel duty when oil prices rise, and vice versa. it would ensure families, businesses and the whole British economy are less exposed to volatile oil markets, and that there is a more stable environment for low carbon investment.

We will increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, ensuring that any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed as an environmental measure to change behaviour are used to reduce the burden of taxation elsewhere.

Liberal Democrats

Undertake preparations for the introduction of a system of road pricing in a second parliament. Any such system would be revenue-neutral for motorists, with revenue from cars used to abolish Vehicle Excise Duty and reduce fuel duty, helping those in rural areas who have no alternatives to road travel. Some of the revenue from lorries would be used to fund further extensions of high speed rail through the UK Infrastructure Bank.

Introduce a rural fuel discount scheme which would allow a reduced rate of fuel duty to be paid in remote rural areas, as is allowed under EU law.

Ensuring pollution is properly taxed by replacing the per-passenger Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty (PPD), ensuring that air freight is taxed for the First time. We will also introduce an additional, higher rate of PPD on domestic rights if realistic alternative and less polluting travel is available.


Ensure that those most able to pay bear their fair share, and introduce a much-needed increase in environmental taxation.

Reintroduce the fuel duty escalator, raising fuel duty by 8% per year. This will raise £2.2bn in 2010 rising to £10bn by 2013.In the longer run we would introduce a system of domestic carbon quotas.

Modify the regime for Corporation Tax Capital allowances so that the allowances are only available for investment in sustainable technologies, raising £7bn in 2010 rising to £10bn by 2013.

Introduce VAT and fuel duty on aviation, raising £7bn in 2010 and £10bn by 2013.

Increase the rates for the Climate Change Levy and for Landfill Tax, raising £300m.

Replace vehicle excise duty by a new graduated purchase tax on vehicles that heavily penalises over-sized or over-powered vehicles. Overall this would be tax neutral.

Make tax concessions on savings, such as ISAs, only available for investment in sustainable technologies, raising £1.8bn.

Prioritise public transport, then if necessary work towards the introduction of road pricing schemes like the London congestion charge.

Introduce road user tolls for heavy lorries.

If these changes were implemented the share of environmental taxation in total taxes would double from about 7 per cent now to 14 per cent in 2013. In the long run we would aim to replace VAT by environmental taxes, but the current state of the public finances does not allow this in the short term.

Land use Planning


Britain’s complex and unwieldy planning system has long been cited as a significant barrier to growth and wealth creation. We will create a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the planning system. We will abolish the unelected infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) and replace it with an efficient and democratically-accountable system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects. We will:

  • use private or hybrid bills to promote major projects, such as our plans for a national high speed rail network;
  • ensure that all other major infrastructure projects are considered at planning inquiries which have binding timetables and which focus on planning issues – with final permission given by a minister; and,
  • provide transitional arrangements for projects already before the iPC to ensure that these projects are not disrupted or delayed.

Developers will have to pay a tariff to the local authority to compensate the community for loss of amenity and costs of additional infrastructure. the tariff will replace the payments and levies on development that have grown up under Labour. a portion of this tariff will be kept by the neighbourhoods in which a given development takes place, providing clear incentives for communities which go for growth.


The newly formed Infrastructure Planning Commission will – within a democratically determined framework – help streamline and speed up decision-making on major projects.

Liberal Democrats

Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decision-making, including housing targets, to local people. We will create a third-party right of appeal in cases where planning decisions go against locally agreed plans.



To cope with the increased risk of flooding associated with climate change, we will take forward the findings of the Pitt Review to improve our flood defences, prevent unnecessary building in areas of high flood risk, and ensure the country is better equipped when flooding does take place.


Accept that climate change will mean that some housing cannot be protected from flooding in a sustainable way, and assist financially those whose homes become uninhabitable. Also invest £1bn in sustainable flood defences and sustainable drainage systems, creating 20,000 jobs, and ensure that insurance is available for flooding.

Developing world


We are committed to achieving the UN target of spending 0.7% of national income as aid by 2013.

… end Labour’s use of the Export Credit guarantee Department to support investment in dirty fossil fuel power stations, and instead use it to help spread new green energy technology to developing countries.


From 2013 we will provide climate assistance additional to our commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of national income in overseas aid.

To secure global change, we will make the case for:

  • The extension of the G8.
  • A clearer mandate for the World Bank to focus on the poorest countries and promote low-carbon development.

Liberal Democrats

We will meet the UK’s obligations to the developing world by committing to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on aid.

… ensure that adaptation and mitigation measures are enhanced by industrialised nations on top of existing aid commitments.



We will work closely with other European countries to establish a common approach to common problems, such as climate change.

European countries need to work together to boost global economic growth, fight global poverty, and combat global climate change. The European Union has a crucial part to play in enabling the countries of Europe to meet these great challenges of the 21st century. A Conservative government will play an active and energetic role in the European Union to advance these causes.

We need to generate 15 per cent of our energy from renewables by 2020, but we have one of the worst records of any EU nation when it comes to renewable energy.


… only co-operative global action – including a strong European Union – can tackle climate change and protect the world’s precious environments.

“… we will use our leadership in the EU to push for a strengthening of Europe’s 2020 emission reductions from 20 to 30 per cent by 2020 as part of an ambitious global deal. This would mean the UK increasing its current target of a 34 per cent reduction.”

Liberal Democrats

… will work through the European Union to deliver a global deal on climate change.

Transform the electricity networks into a dynamic electricity grid that can better connect and integrate new, clean energy technologies particularly through the better use of sub-sea connections, leading to the development of a European Supergrid.

Boost investment in clean energy by reforming the EU emissions trading scheme – bringing in a tighter cap on emissions, auctioning as many allowances as possible, and encouraging other European countries to increase the use of reserve prices in allowance auctions.

Keep the pressure on for reform of agricultural subsidies so that farmers, consumers and taxpayers get a fair deal, and the environment is protected.

Work through the EU for a zero emissions target for all new cars by 2040 and extend targets to other vehicles.


Support Europe-wide renewable energy initiatives such as an under-sea grid for off- shore wind and marine power, concentrating solar power plants in southern Europe and the North African deserts and the building of highly efficient long-distance high-voltage DC power lines.



Tackle illegal logging by pressing for international action to halt deforestation and introducing a new criminal offence under UK law for the import and possession of illegal timber.

Liberal Democrats

Protect the world’s forests, not only to reduce carbon emissions but also to preserve this crucial reservoir of biodiversity. We will argue for an international target of zero net deforestation by 2020; support a new system of payments to developing countries to enable them to reduce deforestation; and adopt at EU – or, if necessary, at UK – level a new law making it illegal to import or possess timber produced illegally in foreign countries.



We support the decision to renew Britain’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent, based on the Trident missile system.


A Strategic Defence Review will look at all areas of defence, but we will maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. We will fight for multilateral disarmament, working for a world free of nuclear weapons, in the Non Proliferation Treaty Review conference and beyond – combining support for civilian nuclear energy with concerted action against proliferation.

Liberal Democrats

We will strive for global nuclear disarmament, showing leadership by committing not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system on a like-for-like basis.


Not replace Trident. We cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we would use these expensive and immoral weapons; we would decommission the existing system and not renew it.

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