Election 2019

Summary of the climate change proposals in the party manifestos

Friends of the Earth are asking all candidates to pledge that they will make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how I vote in parliament, and to vote to support measures that help us rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions and build a fairer and greener society. Type in your postcode to see which of our candidates have made the pledge.

Statements on climate change from the candidates

We asked the prospective parliamentary candidates for the Hertford and Stortford constituency for their views on climate change:

  1. Do you consider that we are in a climate emergency?
  2. What actions have you personally been involved with to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and what did you learn from those actions?
  3. What do you think the next Government’s top priorities should be to address climate change?
  4. What do you think the County Council and District Council should do to address climate change?
  5. If you were elected as our MP,
    a) what steps would you take, as our representative, to address climate change, and
    b) how would you expect to engage with constituents on climate change issues?

Responses from the candidates are listed below in the order that we received them. We have replies from:

We would like to thank these candidates for taking the time to respond. So far we have not received a reply from Alistair Lindsay (UK Independence Party).

Chris Vince – Labour Party

1. Do you consider that we are in a climate emergency?

Yes, without a doubt.  This is the single greatest issue which faces this planet and we need to act now.  Only by electing a Labour government on the 12th of December can we start to address this crisis in a meaningful way.  As I will highlight in my next answer local Labour council’s are already leading the way on this but need a Labour government, and Labour policies, to make real and sustainable change.

2. What actions have you personally been involved with to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and what did you learn from those actions?

As a Harlow district councillor I have been involved in putting forward a motion to full council declaring a climate change emergency and which was passed. The details of said motion are as follows:

  • As a Harlow district councillor I have been involved in putting forward a motion to full council declaring a climate change emergency and which was passed. The details of said motion are as follows: Planting 1,000 new trees and hedgerows across the town in the next year.
  • Encouraging the council’s trading company HTS (Property & Environment) Ltd to switch over from petrol and diesel vehicles, plant and machinery to electric power vehicles, plant and machinery.
  • Encouraging HTS to source battery technology for its electric vehicles from companies who ensure environmentally friendly lithium mining techniques.  
  • Reaffirming the council’s commitment to the Garden Town development’s principles of sustainable transport.
  • Eliminating the use of single use plastics across all public council buildings by January 2020 ahead of the national implementation date of April 2020.
  • Actively promote schemes to encourage children to walk to school such as the Walking Bus initiative and WOW (walk on Wednesdays).
  • Installing electric car charging points across all council car parks within the next five years where possible.
  • Developing a strategy which looks at the feasibility of:
    1. Installing photo voltaic panels on all public council buildings within the next two years where possible; and
    2. New council built houses having a minimal carbon footprint; and
    3. An action plan is created to focus on reducing the impact of day-to-day living on the environment beyond that caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course it’s easy to say this, what matters is putting it into practice.  As a director for our local authority trading company (HTS) I have worked with fellow board members to push for more environmentally ways of working.  This has included the introduction of electric vehicles including electric vans and the installation of electricity ports both on site and in other areas in the town.  I’ve also worked with members of Harlow Youth Council to begin the tree planting process directly.  I’m not an MP who will have a problem getting his hand’s dirty and I am also not the sort of MP who will just turn up for a photo opportunity.

3. What do you think the next Government’s top priorities should be to address climate change?

  • Become carbon neutral in the next ten years
  • Legislate for a country wide tree planting program
  • Bring back green energy subsidies
  • Make further commitments about the reduction/banning of recyclable plastics

4. What do you think the County Council and District Council should do to address climate change?

The East Herts and Hertfordshire Council’s should follow in the footsteps of Harlow council and implement the strategies listed above.  Hopefully they will work with Harlow council to support the garden town project to be environmentally sustainable.  

5. If you were elected as our MP, a) what steps would you take, as our representative, to address climate change?

  • I would support Labour’s pledge to make Britain the only G20 country on track to fulfil our obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Ensure Labour’s Green New Deal is passed which includes 400,000 Green energy jobs, Carbon neutrality by 2020.
  • Work with all MPs to cut down on the amount of non-recyclable waste that we produce with a view to get rid of all non-recyclable waste as soon as possible.
  • Work with local communities to develop our own climate change initiatives.

b) how would you expect to engage with constituents on climate change issues?

I would be an MP who would engage openly with residents about any issues and that includes the environment.  I would be a proactive MP, working with community groups across the constituency.  I know that my unique selling point is my work ethic which is second to none.  I have already shown how hard I will campaign across the constituency and when I am elected I will work equally hard to listen to residents and ensure their voice is heard in Westminster.  

Lucy Downes – Green Party

1. Do you consider that we are in a climate emergency?

Absolutely. Just look around you: flooding in Sheffield,  fires in California have burned over 250,000 acres of land, sea levels have risen 3 inches in the last 25 years, air in India is so polluted it is 10 times greater than the WHO safe limit. How many years of this getting worse will go by before our representatives act appropriately? It’s unbelievable that not everyone is acting on it, as Thunberg said “act as if you house is on fire, because it is”. It wasn’t always like this.

2. What actions have you personally been involved with to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and what did you learn from those actions?

I have really taken up cycling in the past 2 years. My progress has been very easily mapped and now I can get up (slowly, I admit) the hill between St Mary’s and St Joseph’s! As well as the physical and mental health aspects of a more productive economy and reducing costs for the NHS, I am proud to be not using the car and subsequently have reduced the emittance of pollutants in our atmosphere. And anyone who has walked through Hockerill traffic lights or outside Jackson Square will know that we need to reduce the toxicity of our air. It’s also much faster I have found, as I can cut through parks which greatly reduces journey time, but also, I don’t have to worry about finding a car parking space, paying for parking, worrying about running out of parking ticket time and the frustration of having nowhere to park and driving out on a quest to find another car park- which means I’m late. It’s also fun to go cycling with friends in the evening to pick up baking ingredients we’d forgotten or also catching up after a long time of not seeing each other whilst cycling to Much Hadham.

After watching a few Youtube videos and documentaries I have undertaken Minimalism. The key concept is to reduce the unnecessary items in your life – which sounds obvious and easy but as soon as you view your surroundings with these lenses you realise how much you accumulate and how much sentimental value you put onto objects. The idea is so that you never double-buy (e.g. end up with 6 scissors as you couldn’t find them when you needed them) and don’t partake in fast-fashion so instead have quality items that you use until they break. You end up with less things to tidy and also everything you own you really love or you find useful. There is a real clarity of mind gained but also, I don’t buy knickknacks or sale items or holiday memory items so have reduced my carbon footprint.

In combination to this, I gave the items I no longer needed to charity shops. And I shop there too. Someone’s trash is another’s treasure. There are some really great clothes in charity shops (often designer too) that just need a new owner. It’s also much more rewarding to give an item another lease of life as well as getting it at a bargain price. It also means you can have individual style as its less likely someone else will have that item. I also buy my books second hand often online or in charity shops, which has not only been cheaper but also prevented them from being printed on paper again.

I have not eaten meat for about 13 years. I ate fish on and off, but have been fish-free for 3 years now. I went sea-kayaking in Scotland in which we banked to camp for the night and we couldn’t use the beach due to the extent of fishing waste strewn across the whole shoreline. It was truly shocking and saddening. I decided I didn’t want to personally contribute to that industry. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be. There are so many vegetarian options in restaurants and often making vegetarian meals at home can be cheaper.

3. What do you think the next Government’s top priorities should be to address climate change?

We need carbon neutral homes. Stronger legislation is desperately required on the energy efficiency of new build homes – they should be the pinnacle of carbon standards and human ingenuity in preventing climate change. This includes energy efficient light bulbs, solar panels, insulation, triple glazing and solar thermal, housing estates built with electric charging points in key locations of the development, planned bus stops and bus priorities around the estates as well as cycling lanes and integrated walking routes into town and must include green spaces such as parks, playgrounds and tree lined streets. These are all highly feasible and realistic, should be taken from the developers profits so as not to put all the expense on the potential homeowner. That’s just with new housing, retrofit must occur with the current housing stock to ensure it is up to par.

We need cheaper and more accessible renewable energy. Individuals and public buildings can transition to renewable energy suppliers (and are often cheaper than general supplier) such as Bulb, Ecotricity and Greenstar Energy. We have Green Energy UK in Baldock Street in Ware so it works and can be done across the nation. Council offices should have solar panels and solar thermal to lead the way. Gas mains needs to be changed to hydrogen in the short term, until the infrastructure for infrared heating panels and heat pumps can be built.

We need greater public transport and cycling provisions. These include cycle lanes in towns and cycle highways between towns. We need more (preferably sheltered) bike racks. Buses need priority lanes and bus stops to be integrated into housing development plans. Once buses and taxi engines reach the end of their natural life, they should be replaced with electric engines. Bristol is already working on a diesel ban so can become applicable the UK and become a disincentive for buying choices. Instead of airport expansion, investment should be made into improving the connectivity of towns to the main rail network and reducing ticket costs.

4. What do you think the County Council and District Council should do to address climate change?

I would like to thank all the councillors who volunteer their time to better the community. In the county council:

  • Education on climate change needs to be delivered in sixth forms
  • Libraries need to be kept open
  • Inform constituents clearly on which items can be recycled
  • Have curb-side recycling and deposit-return schemes
  • Planning applications need to be rejected if do not adhere to the housing development legislation I proposed above.
  • Halt road building and instead plan for multi-modal transport for bikes, buses, trams and pedestrians.
  • Air quality to be measured in order to focus efforts to cut emissions such as enforce low emissions zones 
  • Encourage walking and cycling to schools. Discourage driving on the school run and have zero engine idling zones near schools

In the District councils:

  • Declare climate emergency
  • Ensure that school and business recycling waste collection is cheaper than general waste.
  • Planning applications need to be rejected if do not adhere to the housing development legislation I proposed above.
  • Require improved standards of biodiversity at new developments 
  • Have higher water conservation standards and full grey water collection

5. If you were elected as our MP, a) what steps would you take, as our representative, to address climate change?

I will try my best and work hard to achieve the necessary transitions outlined in question 3.

b) how would you expect to engage with constituents on climate change issues?

Bring the scientific evidence to the forefront of people’s attention to justify, to those that aren’t aware and to confirm for those that do, the necessity and my focus on addressing the climate emergency. Being forthcoming with the information ensures you bring everyone with you and will encourage participation.

There is a great willingness to be environmentally friendly, however cost to individuals is often a limiting factor. By using large buying power as an MP and with the support of the councils, can drive down the price of retrofitting for the whole community so everyone can achieve our environmental goals.

Brian William Percival – Independent

1. Do you consider that we are in a climate emergency?

The scientific community suggests that we are. I am inclined to agree with them.

2. What actions have you personally been involved with to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and what did you learn from those actions?

I have always been a recycler, bottle/can/paper banks etc. I am pretty sure I understand the issues of recycling and waste management. As for greenhouse gases such as Co2, Methane, Ozone etc, I feel my knowledge of the subject sadly lacking. I have not been personally involved with any schemes to reduce greenhouse gases.

3. What do you think the next Government’s top priorities should be to address climate change?

My priorities with regards to these issues will be firstly to consult with experts that genuinely are interested in helping the situation and aren’t just salesmen with degrees looking to get a government contract for a new wind/solor farm.

Secondly to look at the whole aspect of Local authority Recycling contracts and start recycling more things in this country rather than shipping it all out to be dealt with in other places.

Thirdly we need to tell, not ask shops and supermarkets to use less packaging on their foods and products or make the packaging that may be needed out of recyclable materials.

4. What do you think the County Council and District Council should do to address climate change?

I think that waste management should be a priority and recycling at the top of that list

We need to ensure that the new homes being built in this area are well insulated and ready for renewable energy solutions to suppliment their energy usage.

5. If you were elected as our MP, a) what steps would you take, as our representative, to address climate change?

I would vote for any climate change measures that are beneficial in the long term and cost effective to implement.

b) how would you expect to engage with constituents on climate change issues?

I would be very happy to meet with any constituents that feel their needs are not being met and their issues not being listened to. That should be the same for any MP.

Brian Percival has also prepared a YouTube video on environmental issues.

Julie Marson – Conservative and Unionist Party

Climate change is a huge priority both globally and in this country. We must all play our part to ensure that we leave our planet better off for the next generation. There has been a huge momentum around raising awareness of this issue in recent years to the point where the debate is not whether we should act, but how effectively we can act. I am extremely proud of the Conservatives’ track record on this issue in Government. 

In the UK we are the first advanced economy in the world to pass laws aimed at ending its contribution climate change by 2050. The target requires the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. One of the measures aimed at eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050 is tree planting. The Government has announced plans to plant 11 million trees across the country, as well as a further 1 million ‘urban trees’. It will also consult and publish an England Tree Strategy later this year. We’re also committed to phasing out unabated coal power by 2025.  

The UK has already reduced emissions by 42% while growing the economy by 72%. It has cut emissions further than any other G7 country on a per person basis. There are already 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK and we are aiming for 2 million by 2030. 

Rather than declare a climate emergency, the Conservatives are getting on with delivering policies to actually tackle climate change, rather than using empty slogans and setting targets we can’t hit.

Many solutions lie in technology, so I will support innovation and research and companies that can help address climate issues, particularly in relation to ensuring new homes are net zero and the continued economic viability and efficiency of renewable energy. This also applies to airport expansion, as technology is already producing quieter and more efficient aircraft.  The goal of jobs and economic growth should be balanced carefully with the needs and wellbeing of local people and I will always put local residents as my priority.

The Government launched its Road to Zero Strategy in July 2018, leading the world in zero emission vehicle technology. It outlined the Government’s ambition to see at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030. There are plans to enable a massive expansion of green infrastructure across the country, reduce emissions from vehicles already on the roads and increase the uptake of zero emissions cars, vans and trucks. The Government’s plug-in car grant has so far supported the purchase of 180,000 new cars with over £700 million of funding, including 100,000 plug-in hybrids. Government funding, alongside private investment, has supported the installation of over 20,000 public charge-points, including over 2,000 rapid charge-points. There are double the number of electric charge-points than petrol stations.

Spending per head on cycling and walking has more than trebled since 2010. About £2 billion is being invested in cycling and walking between 2016/17 and 2020/21 through the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy as well as through additional investment by local councils. I’m very proud that Hertford and Stortford is adopting a very progressive approach to transport issues.  We have electric chargers in our towns and there is a strategic focus on a modal shift in transport, with cycling, walking and potential green Mass Rapid Transit system a real part of future planning.  I completely support this. I am also determined to support our beautiful green spaces and natural environment and its natural biodiversity.

Climate change will always be a key factor on how I vote in Parliament. Whilst it is hugely important that the Government leads the way in making the changes needed to decrease our impact on the planet, and it is committed to doing so, it is vital that we as individuals recognise the need to do so. As we have seen recently, more and more people are aware of the issues, which is fantastic, but I wonder how many people realise the impact of their own behaviour? We can all make a difference, from reducing our use of single use plastic to considering an electric car when we replace our current car or walking or cycling more instead of always using the car. It is only when we all make changes as a society that the impact will be seen overall.

Chris Lucas – Liberal Democrats

1. Do you consider that we are in a climate emergency?

It is beyond doubt that we are in a climate emergency. The Liberal Democrats have an evidence-based approach to policy and the scientific evidence for climate change is overwhelming. We are running out of time to do something about this. Without radical action and change, it will be too late to save the planet.

2. What actions have you personally been involved with to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and what did you learn from those actions?

Like many I recycle everything I can,and use energy saving appliances and light bulbs around the house. I also cycle to work and use carbon offsetting when I have to fly. I think we can all make a difference but we need government at all levels to make it easier for us to make good choices.

3. What do you think the next Government’s top priorities should be to address climate change?

The Liberal Democrats, if elected, plan to invest £15 billion over the next parliament to retrofit 26 million homes in order to reduce energy consumption. We also plan to generate 80% of electricity by 2030 and invest to insulate all low-income homes by 2025. Equally importantly, I want to see a new government look at every policy through the prism of the greatest challenge we face as a nation and a planet, and to prioritise environmental issues above all else. The climate emergency can only be tackled effectively by ensuring that every relevant decision taken by national government, local councils, businesses, investors, communities and households makes progress towards the net zero objective.

4. What do you think the County Council and District Council should do to address climate change?

I was appalled but sadly not shocked that in these times of virtual consensus in the scientific world and ever-growing public awareness of the climate crisis, East Herts District Council failed to declare a climate change emergency as proposed by our local Liberal Democrat councillors. There needs to be a sea change in attitude both at that council and at the County Council down the road, both of which are controlled by the Conservative party. Friends of the Earth recently rated East Herts Council as “poor” on “climate friendliness” and they can and must do better. The local District plan is desperately inadequate with regards to enforcing environmentally sound building standards on new developments. With the amount of new housing that we are going to have locally, there is a golden opportunity being missed to improve how houses are built.

This area also has very high car use and inadequate public transport with bus use declining more than in any other county. This is no coincidence. Local councils need to re-invest in new and high quality public transport, such as the demand responsive transport recently proposed, again by local Liberal Democrat councillors. There are three roads in this constituency that have breached air quality standards for many years, and that is simply not good enough for the planet or for the health of our residents. Electric cars and infrastructure needs to be put in place now not in a few years time.

5. If you were elected as our MP, a) what steps would you take, as our representative, to address climate change?, b) how would you expect to engage with constituents on climate change issues?

At a national level I would push for climate action across all areas of policy and also for our policy priorities, for example an unprecedented program of tree planting and a tax on frequent flyers. I would campaign for more investment in local and rural public transport as currently money in public transport goes disproportionately to the cities. More generally, It is important to incentivise the public to change, and not just to penalise people for behaviour that is sometimes difficult financially or practically to change, so I would vote and lobby for any help the government can give people to make good green choices easier to make.

Locally I would engage with local groups such as yours and also with our local councils to push them to embed green thinking across all their policies. Nationally, Liberal Democrats want citizens’ assembly to help decide on action and I see no reason why something similar could not be rolled out locally and I would be happy to facilitate this.