Conservative landslide victory raises fresh concerns for green economy
The results are in and Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won the 2019 General Election with an historic landslide majority, prompting fresh concerns about the strength of environmental regulations in the UK post-Brexit.
Johnson had already given an indication of what his first few months with a majority on his side will look like, having already outlined the first 100 days of a Conservative Party majority during the General Election cycle. There would be “future schemes for agriculture, fishing and the environment” post-Brexit, including the Environment Bill, which had been previously presented to Parliament in the previous session.
In the immediate days after the General Election, a raft of post-Brexit Environment legislation will look to be signed off under a Johnson-led Tory majority Government. Plans include an immediate fresh Queen’s Speech as soon as 19 December – followed by passing legislation on the EU Withdrawal Act before Christmas, including a raft of changes that would alter 40 years of EU environmental regulations.
Part of the Withdrawal Agreement on the departure from the EU customs union and the laws that it enforces is a new regulatory system that the UK will need to stick to as part of any future trade deals with EU nations. This has been called a “level playing field”.
This would require the UK to conform to EU standards on environmental policies and others as part of a trade deal, but the UK has no legal obligation to maintain current standards if no trade deal is agreed, this has already sparked concern that the UK could renegade on environmental standards in pursuit of other trade deals, notably with the US.
In the long-term, the Conservative Party manifesto features some standout commitments, notably:
- Plant 11 million trees to maximise wildlife benefit
- Invest £800m to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s
- Ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries
- Lower energy bills by investing £9.2bn in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals
- Net-zero emissions by 2050, which is already enshrined into law.
The Conservatives have also claimed they will use the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to ask global partners to match climate ambitions and push the globe towards net-zero and the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. However, it is worth noting that all parties have been accused of lying in their manifestos and during campaigning.