European Elections 2019 (North West) – vote for the environment !
With one day of campaigning left before the European Elections on Thursday 23rd May, Manchester Friends of the Earth welcomes the high level of cross-party support from North West candidates for urgent action on climate change, air pollution, fracking and other important environmental issues facing us locally, nationally and worldwide.
In the run up to the European elections, Manchester Friends of the Earth have been asking all candidates standing for election in the North West to let voters know what they think about key environmental issues.(1)
Why are Manchester Friends of the Earth asking MEP election candidates questions about environment issues?
Over 80% of the UK’s environmental laws come from the European Union (EU). Brexit’s main environmental risk is the possibility that these EU protections might be lost or weakened if we’re outside the EU. Some laws might not be faithfully transferred, while others could be made easier to scrap in the future.
It’s not just our environmental laws that are at risk. The legal mechanisms to properly implement and enforce them also originate in the EU. Brexit could leave us with gaps in our environmental protections and difficulties in enforcing our laws.
What are the environmental risks of Brexit?
In 2018, Friends of the Earth commissioned an independent academic report to identify the environmental risks for the UK after Brexit. UK Environmental Policy Post-Brexit: A Risk Analysis confirms that environmental laws could be weakened. Birds and wildlife habitats are at risk in a range of post-Brexit scenarios. (2)
The report showed that the government’s 25-year environment plan is short on detail – and weaker than EU laws in some areas. Plus, without an independent watchdog, it can’t hold the government to account.
These risks are even greater if we leave the EU without a deal. A no-deal Brexit wouldn’t give the government enough time to update our environmental protections so that they work properly after exit day. (3)
Whatever happens next with Brexit, we need strong environmental laws. And candidates who are elected as a Member of the European Parliament will have influence on both the European and United Kingdom parliaments
Each candidates’ responses are available for people to view online (4) and so far, 29 (47.5%) of the 61 North West European Elections candidates have replied.
Of the candidates who have responded:
* 83% would support the European Parliament declaring a Climate Emergency. (Q1)
* 87% would encourage the UK government to ensure that the Environment Bill accurately transfers the relevant regulations from the European Directives that regulate fracking. (Q2)
* 90% would support the European Union reforming the Common Agricultural Policy to ensure that agricultural policies prioritise the transition towards organic, small scale agriculture, and reforestation as key measures for fighting climate change. (Q5)
* 93% would support the UK government introducing a Plastic Pollution Bill to phase out plastic pollution from all its sources. (Q6)
* 93% would encourage the UK government to ensure that the Environment Bill contains measures that are as good as, or better than the Bathing Water Directive to ensure that the cleanliness and quality of UK bathing water is improved. (Q7)
* 93% would support the UK setting ambitious and binding air pollution limits in line with latest health recommendations. (Q8)
Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator said: “We wouldn’t dream of telling people which way to vote but whatever happens next with Brexit, we all need strong environmental laws.”
“We think voters have the right to know where candidates stand on urgent environmental issues that will affect all our lives, such as climate change and air pollution.”
“Our elected representatives need to put young people first and act now for a sustainable future. The longer we put off these tough decisions the harder it will be for future generations.”
“We would like to thank the candidates who took the time to respond and let voters know their views on these important issues.”
Across the North West – response rates for candidates from each political party ranged from: Green Party (100%), Change UK, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats (63%), “others” 40%, Conservative Party and UKIP (25%) and The Brexit Party 0%. (5)
On Thursday 23rd May, people in the North West have the opportunity to vote for the candidates to represent them in the European Parliament. Elected representatives in both EU and the UK will have to help meet many social and environmental challenges in the next 5 years and beyond. These include illegal levels of air pollution, the catastrophic decline in biodiversity and the urgent need to drastically reduce climate-wrecking emissions.
Friends of the Earth is campaigning for:
• The UK’s environmental laws to stay as strong as, or stronger than, those in the rest of Europe
• The UK to be an international leader on climate change
• Any farming or land subsidies to be based on public good, for example improving biodiversity or better flood protection
• The UK to keep working with our European and international neighbours on our joint environmental challenges.
Contact for comments: Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth, Mobile: 07951 642858.
Notes for Editors
1) See European Union elections 2019 – will the environment win?
2) See UK Environmental Policy Post-Brexit: A Risk Analysis
3) See Friends of the Earth No Deal Brexit – Environmental Impact
See European Election 2019 survey questions for details of all the survey questions that candidates were asked. Also includes the background information provided with each question.
5) See Election Survey – Political Parties. Between 13th to 21st May, where we could find contact details for candidates, we directly contacted approx 90% of North West European election candidates via a combination of email, Twitter or Facebook asking them to respond to the environment survey. In addition, where contact details were available, North West political parties were contacted by email, Twitter or Facebook asking them to circulate details of the environment survey to all their candidates.
6) Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. www.foe.co.uk