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General Election 2019 – questions to candidates #GE2019

Below are the questions we are asking candidates in our 2019 general election survey. Each question is accompanied by a paragraph of background information. More information about the survey and a list of candidate responses is available.

Climate Change and Energy

1. Will you support a graduated tax to discourage frequent flyers (a frequent flyer levy)?

Most air travel is for leisure. In 2016, 72% of passengers to/from UK airports were traveling for leisure. The majority of plane trips are made by relatively few people. UK government statistics from a survey in 2014 showed that just 15% of passengers made 70% of all plane trips. A frequent flyer levy would be a step in the right direction. Flying shouldn’t become a luxury reserved for the wealthy. For more info, see: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/policy-positions/aviation-and-climate-change-our-position

2. Will you support a ban on all new fossil fuel extraction in the UK including fracking?

We’re facing a climate emergency, and yet the government introduced a statutory duty in 2015 to maximise economic recovery of UK oil and recently approved a new coal mine in Cumbria. While the moratorium on fracking in England is welcome, the door is still open for this to be overturned in the future. We now know fossil fuels have to be kept in the ground if we are to mitigate the challenge of climate chaos. There are enough known fossil fuel reserves to exceed the world’s carbon budget several times over, we need to stop giving permission to new fossil fuel projects. For more info, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/how-are-we-doing-climate-change-uk-and-world-update

3. Will you support an immediate end to Government support for fossil fuel extraction in other countries?

A recent investigation found the UK is using funding meant for green energy to support fracking in Argentina. While the moratorium on fracking in England is welcome, it is outrageous that the UK government continues to push this industry on communities elsewhere. For more information, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/next-government-must-end-support-overseas-fracking-say-campaign-groups

4. Will you support the removal of the planning blocks which stop the development of onshore wind projects in England?

Onshore wind is the UK’s cheapest form of new electricity generation, it also enjoys extremely high public support. Government statistics show that 79% of people in the UK now support onshore wind – ten times the proportion opposed. Local polling shows that this support is widespread across all constituencies. For more info, see: https://visual.survation.com/cen/

5. For private rented homes, will you support an increase step by step of the minimum energy efficiency standards on the path to a minimum EPC band C in 2030?

Housing is responsible for around 15% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. When we include electricity consumption in this figure the residential sector is responsible for 22% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Not only will improving the housing sector impact a significant proportion of emissions but it will also pull people out of fuel poverty and improve public health. Councils should ensure all homes are well insulated to a minimum of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) level C by 2030, to eradicate the number of people living in fuel poverty as fast as possible (those making decisions between either eating or heating), and make a proportional contribution to the 1 million heat pumps that need to be fitted in the UK each year. For more info, see: https://takeclimateaction.uk/resources/buildings

6. Will you support a Future Generations Act for England to ensure the interests of future generations are heard in decision-making?

The Well-being of Future Generations Act gives Wales the ambition, permission and legal obligation to improve our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being. The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. For more info, see: https://futuregenerations.wales/about-us/future-generations-act/

Transport & air quality

7. Do you support the proposals to introduce Bus Franchising (re-regulation) for Greater Manchester buses?

On Monday 14th October, Greater Manchester became the first city-region to consult on a proposed bus franchising scheme. Buses are vital for Greater Manchester. They’re used for three-out-of-four public transport journeys and thousands of us depend on them to get to work, the shops or services like our local GP. But bus use is falling. Since deregulation 30 years ago, bus use has gone down 40% in Manchester, while in London, (where they have a regulated network, or ‘franchising’) it has doubled. For more information, see: https://betterbusesgm.org.uk/better-buses/10-ways-re-regulating-our-buses-will-make-them-better

8. Will you support a new Clean Air Act making a legally binding commitment to meet World Health Organization guidelines for particulate matter by 2030 and enshrining the right to breathe clean air into domestic law?

Air pollution affects everyone, from the womb to old age, but is particularly dangerous for the most vulnerable individuals, including children, older people and those with existing health problems. They can also suffer the greatest exposure to air pollution, alongside outdoor and transport workers, people from deprived backgrounds and ethnic minorities. We have the opportunity to become world leaders in the fight against air pollution: protecting the health of people across the UK and developing the solutions others need. To achieve this, we need new clean air laws to set an effective framework for action and enshrine the right to breathe clean air into domestic law. For more info, see: https://www.healthyair.org.uk/strong-clean-air-laws/

Nature, pollution and waste

9. Will you support doubling tree cover in the United Kingdom by 2045?

Trees are incredibly important for removing climate-wrecking emissions from the air around us, yet the UK only has 13% tree cover, amongst the lowest in the European Union. One of the best solutions to achieving net zero and protecting our environment is to double tree cover by 2045, but current government targets fall well short. For more info, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/trees

10. Will you ensure the UK has access to a powerful, independent environmental watchdog to police environmental law though the courts and issue fines?

To protect our environment, we need a fierce guardian. A custodian of our environmental laws, regulations and commitments, able to ensure they’re applied correctly, are not ignored or overridden, and that their efficacy is measured. Such a guardian must have the powers, funding and impartiality to make sure that the rules are followed by all public authorities. This government’s 25 Year Environment Plan cannot hope to achieve the outcomes it seeks without an effective watchdog. For more info, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/brexit/how-turn-environment-bill-flagship-legislation

11. Will you support a Plastic Pollution Bill to eliminate plastic pollution, with a particular focus on action to reduce plastic use and increase the re-usability of products?

Plastic pollution is the scourge of rivers and oceans as well as our streets, roadways and fields. In April 2020 a ban on single-use plastic straws and cotton buds will come into effect, but that’s not enough. Too much plastic – be it packaging or bottles – ends up in our waterways, putting our marine life at risk. We’re not suggesting an outright ban on plastics. Some plastics are essential or hard to replace – getting rid of them could lead to worse social and environmental outcomes. But to tackle all the many sources of plastic pollution, we need legislation that commits the government to phasing it out. For more info, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/plastic-problem

12. Will you support the introduction of an immediate ban on new waste incineration capacity (including gasification and pyrolysis plants) in the UK?

Around a tonne of CO2 is released for every tonne of waste incinerated (around half of this being fossil CO2, e.g. from burning plastic). This means that to address climate change we need to be focusing on reduction, re-use and recycling. However, the UK currently has 62 waste incinerators with a combined total capacity of nearly 17 million tonnes per annum, and in 2017/18 more than 42% of Local Authority Collected Waste in England was incinerated. Despite this, additional incinerators are being proposed across the UK.It is very clear that if we want to recycle more then we will need to burn less. You can make a commitment to recycling, to protecting the environment, and to tackling climate change by pledging to introduce an immediate ban on new waste incineration capacity (including gasification and pyrolysis plants). For more info, see: http://ukwin.org.uk/oppose-incineration/

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