Number one priority?

Where did climate change feature in manifestos, and how often was it mentioned?

This is not an analysis of how realistic or effective their policies could be – we’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The parties that seemed to best understand climate change and how it impacts every aspect of life, referring to it throughout their manifestos, were the Green Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Also read our post on how each party fared on climate income.

Joint 1st – Green Party of England and Wales
Climate = first out of five headline priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Green New Deal
First mention is the second sentence (after Brexit) then throughout.
Priorities in order: Green New Deal, Brexit, Democracy, Quality of Life (inc NHS/education/crime), Taxation
‘Above all, the climate and environmental emergency rages from the Amazon to the Arctic. The science is clear – the next ten years are probably the most important in our history.’
Net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2030.
Track record: a Green Bristol councillor secured the first declaration of a climate emergency; Brighton MP Caroline Lucas kick started the climate change debates in parliament this year.

Joint 1st – Labour Party
Climate = first out of five headline priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Green Industrial Revolution
First mention – second paragraph in foreword (after Brexit) then throughout.
Priorities in order: a green Industrial Revolution, public services, poverty and inequality, Brexit, internationalism (inc defense)
‘This is our last chance to tackle the climate emergency.’
Net zero GHGs – unclear – energy by 2030, food by 2040
Track record – Created the Climate Change Act in 2008 and set up the Committee on Climate Change, and entered the UK into the EU emissions trading system in 2003.

Joint third – Liberal Democrats
Climate = Third and eighth out of eight headline priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Green Revolution
First mention – first paragraph in foreword (after Brexit) fifth paragraph in introduction (after Brexit), then throughout.
Priorities in order: Brexit, Economy, Education, Green Society/economy, Health care, fair society, rights and equality, better politics, international
‘We will deliver a ten-year emergency programme to cut emissions substantially straight away, and phase out emissions from the remaining hard-to-treat sectors by 2045 at the latest.’
Net zero GHGs – by 2045 ‘at the latest’
Track record‘Thanks to Liberal Democrat policies in government, the UK has made major strides in cutting emissions from power generation…’

Joint Third – Plaid Cymru
Climate = first of five ‘key priorities’

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Welsh Green Jobs Revolution / Renewables Revolution
First mention: although the Green Jobs Revolution is the number one priority, climate change itself is not mentioned until page 25, and then in detail on page 63.
‘We understand that climate change, together with the global collapse of biodiversity, is the defining challenge of our time.’
Priorities in order: Green jobs, caring, families, housing, crime.
Net zero GHGs: carbon-free / 100 percent self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2030
Track record: While they were MPs, Plaid Cymru’s team recently received a 100% rating in the Guardian’s analysis of MPs’ records on 16 indicative climate votes between 2008 and 2018, reflecting our long-standing support for ambitious long-term climate targets.

Fifth – Scottish National Party
Climate = 10th out of 11 headline priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Green New Deal
First mention: ‘Protect the environment’ is in the tenth paragraph; ‘climate emergency’ on page five.
Priorities in order: Independence, Brexit, NHS, austerity, poverty/inequality, drugs, pensions, migration, devolution, climate emergency, Trident.
Net Zero GHGs: latest 2045 ‘…a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030, net zero carbon emissions no later than 2040 and net zero of all emissions by 2045…’
Track record: ‘Scotland has the world’s most ambitious emissions reductions targets in law’

Sixth – Conservative and Unionist Party
Climate = 16th out of 17 priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: Environment Bill
First mention – a reference to carbon emissions in the foreword, point six (‘My guarantee’, after Brexit, NHS, police, immigration, and education) and second page of the introduction. ‘Climate change’ is first mentioned specifically on page 12.
Priorities in order: Brexit, ‘your priorities’, Britain’s potential (including the Environment Bill), international (including climate change), ‘put you first’.
Net zero GHGs: 2050
‘…[dementia is] one of the ‘grand challenges’ that will define our future along with the impact of climate change or artificial intelligence.’
‘We will also prioritise the environment in the next Budget…’

Track record: first in the world to enshrine in law a net zero GHG emissions target, established UK as the ‘world’s leader in offshore wind’, began the process for a Citizens’ Assembly for Climate Change, ‘doubled international Climate Finance.’

Seventh – Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland)
Climate = 23rd to 25th out of 37 priorities

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: cleaner transport and cleaner air
Priorities in order: NI Assembly, NHS, schools, economy, welfare, abortion and childcare, environment/agriculture/fishing, animal welfare, communities, crime
First mention: net zero is mentioned in the manifesto summary, but not climate change specifically until page 18, and then only within the bounds of rural matters.
Net Zero GHGs: net C02 by 2050

Eighth – Brexit Party
Climate = no priority

Primary mechanism to tackle Climate Change: tree planting
First mention – no mention
Priorities in order: Brexit, political reform, investment, living costs, economy, immigration, NHS, education, housing
‘Invest in the Environment: in addition to planting millions of trees to capture CO2 we will promote a global initiative at the UN.’
Net zero GHGs: no mention

Want more?

Carbon Brief – a very comprehensive manifesto comparison based on energy and climate change

BBC – choose your beef and country

Friends of the Earth – have your election candidates signed the climate pledge?

Friends of the Earth Manifesto analysis has Labour on top

Greenpeace analysis has the Green Party on top