Vote!

Welcome to the (political) jungle

It’s election time and as we’ve discussed previously, voting really matters. With the pressing urgency of preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis growing ever stronger, it’s politicians who hold much of the solution in their hands, certainly for what needs to be done between now and 2030. At the risk of repeating ourselves, we have the technology to move to zero emissions vehicles, we know how to roll out renewable energy facilities, the science is clear on how changing our diets and shopping habits can help, retrofitting our homes with better insulation and carbon neutral heat sources is 100% technologically possible.

However, none of those things is currently happening at a fast enough pace and the barrier to change is political action, forced by the way we vote.

So, in order to help you make informed decisions when you cast your vote in next weeks elections, we’ve decided to be helpful and stick our noses above the parapet of disapproval by producing a guide to the green policies of the parties you’ll find on the ballot here in Wales. We’ve attempted to summarise the environmental policies of each party plus given both a headline point and a brief list of pledges in order to save you wading through multiple manifestoes.

Now, we know that most people don’t just vote for a party on its climate policy but we do feel it needs to be an important part of the decision making process. We also know our judgements aren’t flawless so don’t take our word as gospel. Read, explore, educate and be ready to make a decision you really believe in at the ballot box.

As a final note, we’re not endorsing any one party and the views contained in this piece are obviously our own. For full disclosure we’re also members of one of the political parties listed below although possibly not the one you think. We’ve done our best to be as impartial as possible and our judgments are based on environmental and climate related policies alone, not on the parties wider manifestoes or fitness to govern.

Labour

Headline Green Pledge – Abolish more single use plastics and create a national forest for Wales.

The Labour manifesto contains a slightly disappointing collection of measures that, in our opinion, fail to add up to a cohesive plan for change on the scale needed to tackle the climate crisis we’re living through. Part of that may be because, as an actual party of government, Labour is unwilling to make big promises it doesn’t feel are deliverable and partly it may be because they’ve had their hands full over the last year. Unfortunately that means their manifesto features a number of nice ideas such as repair and reuse hubs across the country, but doesn’t look to transform at the pace and scale increasingly required. This is the manifesto of a party still viewing the environment as a separate challenge, not an existential threat the requires an all government response.

Main Manifesto Points

  • Abolish more single use plastic

  • Extend the proposed new national forest for Wales

  • Create thousands of jobs based on decarbonising the economy. This will be based around the existing ‘economic contract’

  • Focus on flood risk with flood protection for 45,000 new homes

  • Aim for buses and taxis to be zero emission by 2028

  • Establish a Tidal Lagoon challenge to encourage development of tidal energy

  • Make Wales an ‘active travel nation’ with a focus on cycling and walking infrastructure

  • Create a new network of bike repair schemes and cafés and 80 ‘repair and reuse hubs’ in town centres

  • Seek to expand renewable energy generation by public bodies and community groups in Wales by over 100MW by 2026, working towards our target of 1GW in public sector and community renewable energy capacity by 2030.

  • Continue to oppose all fossil fuel extraction in Wales


Plaid Cymru

Headline Green Pledge - £6billion green economic stimulus to create 60,000 new jobs and a net zero Wales by 2035.

The Plaid agenda is transformative in its vision for a very different Wales and so it’s no surprise that the urge to create something new extends to environmental issues. As a party serious about governing, they’re the only ones apart from the Greens to attempt to explain how they would fund their climate policies which is a definite plus. Ironically, for a party dedicated to change, their green policies might not be quite bold enough. They understand the need for government wide environmental change and yet sections of their manifesto such as healthcare and education make no mention of the challenges facing future generations who will live with the worsts effects of the problem. £6billion is big, it could be even bolder.

Main Manifesto Points

  • Set a Wales 2035 Mission to decarboniseand to reach net zero emissions.

  • Establish Ynni Cymru as an energy development company with a target of generating 100 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2035. Plaid feel such as move “will establish Ynni Cymru as an energy project development company, similar to Transport for Wales and the Development Bank for Wales. Ynni Cymru will allow Wales to join the European norm of establishing a state backed energy company. Ynni Cymru, located in Ynys Môn, will help facilitate peer-to-peer trading of electricity between microgrids and virtual energy islands.”

  • Introduce a Nature Act with statutory targets to restore biodiversity by 2050.

  • Ban non-essential single-use plastics in 2021, ensure zero waste ends up in landfill and end all waste incineration by 2030.

  • Increase the level of investment in flood mitigation to £500m over the course of this Senedd term

  • Decarbonise all of our railways by 2035.

  • Legislate to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans before the UK date of2030.

  • All electricity demand in Wales to be renewable by 2030.

  • All electricity generated in Wales to be renewable by 2035.

  • In planning new homes, ban the use of fossil fuel energy from 2022 and require all to be highly energy efficient by 2023.

  • Retrofit every home in Wales by 2050

  • Introduce a Nature Act to set a statutory duty and targets to restore biodiversity in both terrestrial and marine environments

  • By 2030, zero waste will go to landfill and we will end all waste incineration. Any products that cannot be reused, repaired, refilled, recirculated or recycled will be designed out of the system. Plaid will tackle the issue of plastic waste by immediately banning non-essential single-use plastics in 2021, including plastic bags, straws, cutlery, Styrofoam and nonbiodegradable wet-wipes.

Like the Green Party, Plaid offered some detail on funding a Welsh Green New Deal with proposals laid out for two scenarios based on what borrowing power is available to the devolved administration.


Conservatives

Headline green pledge – make Wales net zero by 2050

Their manifesto is entitled ‘a plan for recovery and change’ and to be fair, they have a more detailed environmental and climate set of policies than maybe would have been expected. Their voucher scheme to retrofit existing homes to reduce energy use is a solid commitment which would make some difference even if larger sums will ultimately be needed. Their decision to seek to reverse the existing Welsh Government decision to create a nationwide Nitrate Vulnerable zone would be controversial but popular with famers.

Ultimately, however, their plan falls far short of the level of action that will be needed to create a net zero Wales and doesn’t show a commitment to creating a joined up, ‘all government’ plan to tackle the climate emergency.

Main manifesto points

  • Set a target of net-zero carbon emissions in Wales by 2050 and a target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2026. Support households to improve the energy efficiency of their homes with vouchers up to £5,000, with households on low incomes receiving up to £10,000

  • Establish a £150 million Wales Marine Energy Investment Fund to purchase equity in marine energy projects, including small scale and hydro, to produce renewable energy whilst prioritising those with flood protection benefits

  • Ban single use plastics for non-medical use such as plastic wet wipes, straws, stirrers, disposable cups and cotton buds to reduce harm to wildlife and blocked sewers and drains

  • Deliver a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans to promote recycling and minimise waste

  • Stimulate the creation of 15,000 long-term green collar jobs to help Wales meet its carbon reduction targets

  • Create 15000 green jobs

  • Install 20000 green charging points

  • Focus on flood prevention to protect communities with a doubling of the flood defence budget

  • Plant 8 million trees a year

  • Reverse Wales wide nitrate vulnerable zone and replace with existing voluntary scheme


Liberal Democrats

Headline Green Pledge - Recovery for our Planet; create a package of investment of £1bn per year to fight the climate emergency.

The Liberal Democrats want you to take their climate policies seriously. To do that they’ve a headline figure of £1billion investment and a quote from Greta Thunberg in their manifesto. Its hard to argue with the Swedish activist that ‘our house is on fire’ and the Lib Dems do strive to create a package that adds up to the sort of meaningful change needed. It contains proposals for different parts of the country and looks to create 10,000 new jobs. What is missing is any sense of how this would all be paid for. An understandable omission in some ways from a party with little chance of holding power but it does undermine the credibility of an otherwise strong environmental message.

Main Manifesto Points

  • Create a package of investment of £1bn per year to fight the climate emergency, create new jobs and stability for supply chains and businesses, and to invest in new technology.

  • Aim for 10,000 full time equivalent jobs across Wales over 15 years, the generation of around £2.2bn for the Welsh economy and the reduction of energy consumption and energy bills for households

  • Pass a Green Homes Act to help cut average household energy bills by £500 per year and build smarter more, energy efficient homes.

  • Take action to protect the natural environment and biodiversity, including action on flooding, reforestation, wildlife conservation, marine conservation and loss of open, public green space.

  • Make Holyhead a regional hub for renewable energy and hydrogen production, creating new, long-term jobs and opportunities for local businesses.

  • Make Port Talbot the principal manufacturing and port hub for floating offshore wind in Wales, to lead the manufacturing and assembly of floating offshore technology.

  • Roll-out electrical vehicle charging and electric heat pump technology in Mid-Wales, alongside additional onshore wind capacity built to take advantage of significant untapped wind resource in Mid-Wales, utilising the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) estate to secure a return for Welsh taxpayers.

  • Invest in the infrastructure required to increase the capacity for renewable energy production. This would include the implementation of a grid system upgrade, informed by the National Infrastructure Commission tasked with carrying out a strategic review

  • Declare a Nature and Biodiversity crisis, setting out the cross government and societal actions needed to leave a thriving planet for future generations.

  • Agree Nature and Marine Recovery Plans, to clean up our environment and our waters, protect species, and ensure that our environment can thrive.

  • Introduce legally binding nature recovery targets with regular milestones, backed up by monitoring and reporting

  • Make every town in Wales a Tree Town, with every council preparing a long term Tree and Woodland Strategy to deliver and sustain a minimum of 20% tree cover in urban areas and 30% tree cover for all new developments.

  • Update and improve tree protection legislation as part of plans for a new Welsh Planning Act.

  • Increase tree cover on farms with payments under a Hedges and Edges Scheme, supporting climate-smart, nature-friendly farming.


Green Party

Headline Green Pledge - Setting up a Green Transformation Fund for Wales (GTFW) to immediately finance ambitious Decarbonisation and Green New Deal measures, creating tens of thousands of new jobs across Wales.

The Greens are getting serious. They’ve grown up, ditched the single issue tag, and developed a platform that embraces the whole of government. These are no longer the CND protesters climbing up trees to stop road building of years gone by. This is a joined up, all government approach seeking the genuine solution to the climate crisis we’re living through. As you’d expect from a Green Party, every part of their manifesto contains policies that would change how we do things by putting environmental concerns at the heart of every decision. It’s bold, detailed, transformative and contains information on how it would be paid for. We couldn’t list all the highlights in the space available, not a problem we had with most of the other parties. If politics is the barrier to enacting change that is already possible, this manifesto smashes that excuse away and lays out a path to a very different future. The question is, is it a vision enough people really want?

Main Manifesto Points

  • Embark on immediate actions using a mixture of revenue streams and institutions. The current powers of Welsh Government would be used to put in place a truly impressive strategy that will pay for itself over time. The Wales Green Party will commit the political will to make this happen.

  • Create Green Transformation Bonds encouraging organisations and individuals to invest in a massive roll-out of green infrastructure to secure modest returns from money saved

  • Advocating for a carbon tax to help reduce Wales’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. A steadily rising price will be placed on all sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including agricultural emissions and those embedded in imports. Revenue goes to residents and to greening the economy.

  • Bring in a Green New Deal for food and farming, designed by the farming communities and people of Wales, to deliver a 10-year transition to agroecological food production and nature restoration, helping farmers work with nature.

  • Recognise that action is required at all scales, whilst prioritising community-scale renewable energy and decarbonisation projects supporting job creation and opportunities for local people.

  • Build thousands of zero carbon new homes each year

  • Install rooftop solar on every hospital

  • Convert thousands of houses to warm zero carbon homes each year

  • Replacing all diesel buses in Wales with electric buses assembled in Wales

  • Replace fossil fuels with onshore and offshore renewable energy and invest in necessary upgrades to the electricity grid.

  • Make buildings and homes more energy efficient with efficiency measures in new buildings, homes and retro-fitting financed by the Green Transformation Fund for Wales to reduce energy demand and ensure warm healthy homes.

  • Support clean, decentralised power networks – renewable energy schemes, low carbon heat networks, heat pumps and energy storage – to maximise economic and community benefit, whilst minimising environmental and social impacts.

  • Support faster deployment of wave, tidal stream and tidal lagoon energy, onshore and offshore wind, solar power, hydropower, district heat networks, a new hydrogen economy and storage.

  • Create better, affordable, cleaner transport options for all including access to better walking, cycling/active travel. Develop an integrated national transport strategy which would: reduce traffic and carbon emissions; improve health and well-being; improve air quality; and respond to the climate emergency.

  • Propose a bill to ban single use plastic and legislation to progressively reduce all non-recyclable packaging waste, with a goal for an overall reduction on packaging.

  • Appoint a new Welsh Government Commissioner for Biodiversity and Animal Protection (BAP) to reverse the decline of biodiversity in Wales. The Commissioner will develop a task force and set of plans for the recovery of Welsh ecologies, landscapes, animals and plant life.

The Green Party also have a clear section on how they would look to finance these measures. For the next session of the Senedd they propose;

  • Extending Community Development Finance Institutions (such as Robert Owen Community Banking) as vehicles for local energy finance

  • Joining with other countries to push for a Carbon Tax that redistributes money gained to citizens and green economy initiatives

  • Supporting a pandemic windfall tax to raise revenue for green recovery initiatives

  • (As mentioned above) Develop the roll out of Green bonds to allow investment.


Reform

Headline Green Pledge – Support and invest in tidal energy to make Wales a green leader in this field

The party formerly known as Brexit produce a manifesto that in environmental terms is little more than an undecipherable squiggle. A couple of bullet points sum up their policy while they plan more road building and free parking to encourage cars in town centres. It’s a road to nowhere.

Main Manifesto Points

  • Support and invest in tidal energy

  • Work with local authorities to create an electric vehicle charging network that funds public services

  • Create a national forest for Wales


Abolish the Assembly.

Headline Green Pledge – Abolish National Resources Wales

Single issue party with not a lot of information available. But, hey, you can buy their merchandise or pay good money to be a member. With no visible link to a manifesto from their website we’re left to rely on previous statements which suggest a desire to abolish national resources Wales and work on new technologies to offset the environmental impact of farming.

Main Manifesto Points

  • Abolish National Resources Wales.