Tory candidates told not to sign climate pledge

Electoral candidates standing for the Conservatives should “avoid signing” pledges to back tougher climate change targets, according to official party guidance.

“Each campaign is different, but many contain unrealistic targets, like achieving net zero emissions by 2025 or 2030,” says the paper, which was leaked to the Guardian newspaper.

Both “would be impossible to achieve – we instead favour practical, reasonable steps to protect our planet while keeping bills down,” states the document issued by the Conservative Research Department. It presents a series of template responses and political points that candidates should use.

On climate, it says that they should remind their prospective constituents that the UK became the first advanced economy to legislate for net zero by 2050 and that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by a third since the coalition government entered power in 2010. “But we know we have to do more and will put climate change at the heart of the Conservative agenda,” it adds.

Labour’s intention to nationalise electricity generation “will drive away the crucial investment we need to introduce new clean technology and wreck the economy, meaning higher bills for families,” claims the guidance.

It also says that Labour’s plan to reach net zero emissions by 2030 is “utterly unachievable”.

However, the statement is inaccurate, as the motion passed at Labour’s annual conference called on the party leadership to adopt the goal. It is not binding and the party’s manifesto has not yet been published. A group of independent experts tasked with finding the most feasible way to meet it found that it would add £800bn to the economy, create 850,000 new jobs and save the NHS £400 million per year.

The document also offers talking points on the potential threat to the NHS of a post-Brexit US trade deal and says that there is no need to sign any pledge to support Brexit. “A Conservative government with a functioning majority will immediately get Brexit done,” it states.

It generally advises against signing up to any pledges at all, though candidates “may sign if they deem it appropriate” a pledge to support “a flagship Environment Bill”.

The party is taking “World-leading action to tackle the scourge of plastics. We have already banned plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds from April next year and we’re introducing a landmark Environment Bill that both encourage producers to cut waste and protect our precious water resources,” it states.

“Labour want to remain in the EU – meaning they could not seize many of the environmental opportunities presented by leaving,” the guidance claims.

The only other pledge that candidates may undertake is to promote the interests of game shooting through joining the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation. The guidance says that though it is “essential that our wildlife is properly protected”, with shooting “worth around £2bn to the economy, much of it in our remotest communities”.

It does not mention the prevalence of killing protected species on shooting estates, the impact on protected areas, use of lead shot, the creation of illegal roads, or moorland burning.


Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

Related ENDS Compliance Content

  • Climate Change Act 2008

    Climate Change Act 2008

    In force/
    England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, UK, Wales
    01 May 2014


    28/04/2014 Amendments to Section 77 and Schedule 6 relating to charges for carrier bags, introduced by the Carrier Bags Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, published.
    01/02/2017 Amending Act (Wales Act 2017) published., 27/06/2019 Amending Order (SI 2019/1056) published, setting net zero target for 2050.

    Compliance Dates

    31/05/2009 Secretary of State must set carbon budgets for 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 (Section 4), 31/05/2009 Secretary of State to set limit on net amount of carbon units that may be credited to the net UK carbon account for the first budgetary period (Section 11), 31/05/2052 Secretary of State to lay before Parliament a report on the final figures for the net UK carbon account in 2050 (Section 20), 31/12/2012 Secretary of State to set out, by Regulations, the circumstances and extent that the international aviation and shipping emissions are to be included in the carbon budgets and targets, or report to Parliament the reason as to why no Regulations have , 30/09/2009 CCC to lay the first annual report before Parliament that assesses the progress towards meeting the carbon budgets and the 2050 target, the progress needed and whether the target and budgets are likely to be met (Section 36), 15/01/2010 Secretary of State to respond to the CCC progress report (Section 37), 26/11/2009 Secretary of State to present the first report to Parliament on the circumstances in which Directions are likely to be given (Section 65)
    01/10/2009 Secretary of State to publish Guidance on the measurement or calculation of GHG emission (Section 80)
    01/12/2010 Report reviewing the contribution of reporting of GHG emissions to the Government’s objectives to be laid before Parliament (Section 84)
    06/04/2012 Secretary of State to make Regulations requiring directors to include information on GHG emissions in their company reports, or to explain why no Regulations have been made (Section 85), 26/11/2008 Part 1, 2 and 6 comes into force (Section 100)
    01/01/2009 Section 82 comes into force, 26/01/2009 All provisions come into force, apart from Part 1, 2 and 6; and Sections 71(1), 81 and 82; and Schedule 5



    Energy/climate change Sustainable development


    OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information)

    Affected Sectors


Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy