Prior to Thursday’s election in the United Kingdom, many environmentalists were pointing out how critical it is to the global fight against man-made climate change to put the Conservative Party out of power — but after the party’s stunning win, environmentalists are left scratching their heads instead. Party leader Boris Johnson seemingly couldn’t care less about climate change.
Instead, he’s more focused on the unmitigated disaster that is Brexit.
That’s a fairly sharp turn from former Prime Minister Theresa May, who made a nationwide commit to 2050 carbon neutrality. Technically, Johnson is still committed also. “And you the people of this country voted to be a carbon neutral in this election,” he said after winning. “You voted to be a carbon neutral by 2050 and we will do it.”
Environmentalists are skeptical. Parties in the UK are rated on a sliding scale by watchdog Greenpeace UK, which gave the Conservative Party only a 7 out of 20. It’s a stark contrast to the Green Party, which was given a 19, or the Labour Party, which was given a 16.
Other rating systems are equally unkind to the conservatives. Friends of the Earth head of political affairs Dave Timms had this to say: “Despite the Conservative Party manifesto offering decent policies on plastics and agricultural subsidies and restatement of the moratorium on fracking, in sector after sector its commitments were invariably weaker than the other parties, entirely absent or just plain bad.”
Timms continued, “Their manifesto consistently failed to step up to address the climate and nature emergencies, which are hurting communities right now and will deliver catastrophe in the future. We were concerned that they failed to restate commitments to some existing positive government policies.”
One of the biggest issues for environmentalists is the Conservative Party’s continued support of aging — and dying — industries like coal and oil, where they received election support from donors.
Greenpeace UK director of policy said, “The motives behind these donations are unknown, but there has to be suspicion about whether donors’ interests may shape the future government’s response to the climate crisis we’re in. Voters deserve to know who is propping up these election campaigns and, if elected, how they may get preferential treatment with the governing party who has taken their dirty money.”
Boris chose not to appear during a debate about the climate crisis. Always with a sense of humor, the Brits replaced him with a melting ice sculpture.
The only UK political party with a worse climate-related manifesto was the Brexit Party, which won no new seats in the election.
Conservatives have 364 seats, Labour has 203, the SNP has 48, the Liberal Democrats 11, the Welsh Plaid Cymru 4, and the Green Party only one. There is a single seat left up for grabs while the votes are still counted.