Credit: Element5 Digital via unsplash

Who should I vote for to save the planet?

By Teddy Bingham

A General Election is happening within the next year, and will be essential in shaping climate policy headed towards the crucial 2030s. Who we vote for is crucial to the saving of our planet’s future.

The climate crisis worsens day by day, with action from the UK government weak, piecemeal and slow. Sadly, for those of us who seek meaningful change, the singular most important issue of our time has been dragged into the exhausting culture wars of recent years. This is despite the scientifically agreed consensus behind global warming and ecological breakdown. Leaving aside the spin and soundbites – let’s take a look at what each main UK party is promising the electorate so far; as well as what they might offer as we head towards an election. 

The UK follows a frustrating trend seen throughout the world, with progressive parties of  the left promising bolder and more rapid action than those on the right. The Conservatives  have pandered to climate deniers and failed in a raft of key climate policy areas over their  

last 13 years in government. From home insulation to fracking, this government has consistently failed to rise to the occasion. Rishi Sunak recently rowed back on the  Conservative’s 2030 pledge to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, extending it to 


Disturbingly, a new faction inside the Tory party has arisen, named ‘The net- zero scrutiny group’. Formed in 2022, they risk having huge influence on the implementation of climate policies. The group, which includes current and former frontbench politicians, has campaigned against restrictions on fracking. The NZSG pursued a platform which attempts to construe climate policies as negatively impacting worker’s lives under a classic populist narrative. 

The Conservative party currently remains committed to the globally agreed target to  achieve net-zero by 2050, yet their days of enthusiasm for the green agenda seem firmly  behind them. And, with the party divided and more focused on issues such as immigration and pre-election tax cuts, it appears likely their plans to combat the crisis will be anything but inspiring come election day. 

Labour, meanwhile, based on current polls, are on their way to power and have announced  plans for a green industrial revolution as one of the defining features of what they have  described as a “decade of national renewal“. Unlike their vagueness on other issues so far,  Starmer’s party have proposed a detailed plan for green investment to the number of £28  billion per year, insulating 19 million homes, and moving to providing all power from zero  carbon sources by 2030. Emulating the Biden administration in the US, Shadow Chancellor  Rachel Reeves has made clear this green investment will be a cornerstone of her economic 

pitch to voters. 

But how seriously can we take these plans when Starmer has abandoned so many other radical policies? Already Reeves has urged caution, claiming the £28 billion figure may not be reached in the first year of a Labour government. For now, the policy in general remains safe, with the figure to be reached midterm of a first government; and it is obvious that it would be damaging to U-turn on such a huge part of their offer on economic growth. 

Whilst the party have not yet divulged much of the details on their plans, they seem serious in their commitment to achieving net-zero as quickly as possible. Ed Miliband’s position as Shadow Secretary of State for Net Zero is a strong indicator of this commitment to green policies. Miliband is a known enthusiast for the green agenda, having outlined radical solutions to the climate crisis in his book: Go Big: How to fix our world. As Labour appears likely to form the next government, voters hoping for bold action may have to hold their noses on other policies, in the hope they will see a Westminster government that at the very least recognises the scale of the task in hand. 

Here in Scotland, the Scottish National Party have made bold commitments to decarbonise the economy and radically transition the Scottish economy toward net zero. Their target of 2045 to achieve net zero, similarly pledged by the Liberal Democrats, is bolder than the UK government. The party is committed to the end of the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, they plan to invest further in public transport, and have created a climate justice fund to focus on poorer countries affected by climate change in the Global South. 

These promises are a good start, yet even with the Green Party as partners in government, they have failed to meet a legally binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 51.1% by 2021. This is not exactly a good sign of what’s to come if the SNP remain in government. Voters will have to decide whether their words will match with their actions, particularly since they have been in government since 2007 and remain a formidable voting bloc in Westminster. 

As right-wing populism gains ground across Europe and the world, climate action faces defeat in exchange for short-term unsustainable policies. If we truly care about the future of  the planet, we must continue applying pressure to all parties and ensure the climate emergency remains at the top of the political agenda. In this crucial moment for action, we must ensure climate denial stays far away from the corridors of power. It’s time we vote for a party offering a serious plan for the UK to lead by example. 

In 2010, the Tories rode to power claiming to be greener than Labour. Yet nearly 14 years later we hear the same empty promises and lack of focus. If we are to save future generations, the planet must be the foremost thing on our minds when we cast our votes come election day.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments