General election: 6 candidates with green pledges at the heart of their campaigns

Green policies have shot up the agenda as political parties realise that voters are becoming increasingly concerned about climate and the environment. Here are seven candidates hoping to secure victory on the back of green promises.

Rebecca Pow joined DEFRA in September as a junior environment minister. Photograph: UK Parliament Rebecca Pow joined DEFRA in September as a junior environment minister. Photograph: UK Parliament

1 Richard Benwell

Liberal Democrat candidate for the Wantage Constituency, Benwell describes himself as a leading environmental expert and campaigner. The former adviser to Michael Gove at DEFRA is currently chief executive of the NGO coalition Wildlife and Countryside Link.

Benwell has pledged to “fight to protect and improve our greenspaces, to ensure that new homes are affordable and built to higher standards, and to help our market towns and villages thrive in the 21st Century”. 

2 Mary Creagh 

Labour candidate for Wakefield and former chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Creagh tweeted this week that while in power the Conservatives had “100s of enviro staff working on Brexit instead of protecting environment”. She added that the UK was currently  “set to miss raft of key environmental targets in 2020 and beyond”. Creagh has played a prominent role in holding the government to account over its plans to replace EU environmental governance mechanisms after Brexit. However, her Wakefield consistency is a target of the Conservative Party, which believes its Brexit-backing voters can be convinced to reject a Labour candidate for the first time since 1931.

READ MORE: General election: Which MPs with green roles are most vulnerable?

3 Sue Hayman 

Labour candidate for Workington, Hayman was instrumental in Labour’s motion to declare an environment and climate emergency which was approved by the House of Commons without a vote in May. Speaking ahead of last month’s second reading debate on the Environment Bill, Hayman accused the government of “ducking its responsibilities by ensuring that any legally binding targets will not have bite for nearly two decades… Labour will strengthen the Environment Bill to close this loophole and to ensure all targets are legally binding and cannot be kicked into the long grass,” she said.

4 Rebecca Pow 

Conservative candidate for Taunton Dean, Pow was previously junior minister at DEFRA and is hoping to be reelected to be able to continue her agenda, she considers herself a “traditional blue Conservative with a streak of sustainable green”. Pow has been a member of both the Environmental Audit Select Committee and the Environment, Food & Farming select committee before becoming a Parliamentary Private Secretary in DEFRA and subsequently a minister there. She has campaigned to reduce the use of single-use plastics and championed the need to protect soils. Locally, Pow has supported road expansion schemes as well as an upgrade of Taunton Rail Station. 

5 Zac Goldsmith

Goldsmith only just managed to hang on to his Richmond Park constituency seat in the last election with a majority of just 45. With the Green Party standing aside to give the Liberal Democrats more chance of victory, Goldsmith will have a tough time on his hands convincing green voters to go blue. Goldsmith is however, indisputably a green Tory, continuing to oppose Heathrow expansion and advocate for action to tackle the “disgraceful levels of air pollution” in London, by campaigning for increased investment in cycling and public transport, tougher rules on HGVs, buses and taxis, and is pressing government to “introduce a diesel scrappage scheme and to bring in a new Clean Air Act”. 

6 Ed Davey

The would-be Liberal Democrat leader and former energy secretary is standing for re-election in Kingston and Surbiton. Apparently committed to green energy, Davey has set up an energy and climate change consultancy, saying it was his “concerns about our environment that first got me politically active”. He also chairs a community energy co-operative called Mongoose Energy, which develops solar energy sites. Davey says he’s campaigning on getting more homes built and insulated, as well as more investment in renewable power and railways.