The UK needs to step up when it comes to energy, environment and climate change. With Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and saying he wants to negotiate a better deal for the US, the UK needs to step-up post Brexit and say, “we will commit to measures that will ensure our planets survival for years to come” along with a clear and coherent plan on how to do this.

The Conservatives have been somewhat evasive on the issue and haven’t offered much in the way of progress. They have also failed fundamentally when in government this year over warnings about Air Pollution.

Conservative policy

A 25-year Environment Plan which includes Blue Belt for marine protection, every vehicle to be zero-emissions by 2050, with £600 million investment to achieve this and action against litter programme with comprehensive rubbish and recycling collection plus support of better packaging.

The policies don’t sound too bad however, the 25-year plan would be a fantastic idea if the plan itself would be plausible, but a Blue Belt for marine protection will be difficult and it will open all sorts of constitutional issues when negotiating with the EU over sea territory. The issue with marine life, is that it doesn’t have the same climatic barriers as land-based animals and they have no restrictions on where they can migrate to.

The £600 million into zero- emission vehicles are simply not enough to encourage innovation. The litter problem isn’t a societal one, it is companies who have created blame onto ordinary people, so that they don’t have to invest as much into creating better and more environmentally friendly packaging.

They have also said that they will no longer pursue the ban on ivory despite them stating as a government, they were committed to that policy and after previously contacting them before the general election they ‘confirmed’ they were committed but failed to reply to our question asking if they were going to pursue a ban other than the one proposed in 2015.

There is a very little mention on their sustainable energy policy apart from what we already know with fracking and nuclear being their preferences.

Publicly underrated issues

Environmental crime is a global issue and we need to face the fact that it costs the global economy an estimated 91-258 billion USD per year, this places it as the fourth largest criminal activity in the world behind drug trafficking (344 billion USD), counterfeit crimes (288 billion USD) and human trafficking (157 billion USD).

But this also has a more profound effect, that it damages the global eco-systems that we rely on for the foundations of development, health, food securities and economies. Ecosystems provide clean water, air and a supply of food which impacts physical and mental wellbeing.

Whilst in government the Conservatives have been sued 3 times over dangerous levels of air pollution by ClientEarth lawyers and threatened with being sued by the EU over failure to deal with the VW emissions scandal. They also faced a challenge from the Environment Audit Committee over the Heathrow expansion plans, a report from the committee stating they need to prove that the 3rd runway won’t cause a breach in air pollution limits.

Finally, they faced an embarrassment after the UN asked the government to halt their development of Hinkley Point C, The Conservatives grand energy scheme, after The UN Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE) reported that the Espoo Convention is to “assess the environmental impact of certain activities”. The power station was also delayed because of issues with funding from one of the private partners.

There is a real need to address those two issues above but they aren’t particularly publicised, the latter is increasingly becoming a more mainstream issue because of the profound effects it has on the NHS. If public health deteriorates that puts more pressure on an increasingly strained and underfunded health service, with more people recognising this. The former is lesser known because it is a global issue but is equally as important as air pollution.