Friends of the Earth has said that Labour’s manifesto pledges– along with additional promises it has made – score best on “tackling the climate emergency” when marked against the group’s own manifesto.
However the former resources minister Thérèse Coffey– who is now secretary of state for Work and Pensions – questioned the independence of the report, saying it came from a group with a “longstanding bias on politics”.
On Saturday, 7 December, Friends of the Earth ranked the manifesto demands of the Conservatives, Green Party, Labour and the Lib Dem against its own, which covered ten policy areas including transport, food and local authority funding.
Labour came out on top with a score of 33 out of 45, with the Greens coming second with 31, Lib Dems in third with 30 and the Conservatives in fourth with 5.5.
From a recycling perspective, the Friends of the Earth manifesto states that it wants to see parties pledge to introduce binding targets to halve UK food waste by 2030, including through funding weekly food waste collections for every household as proposed in the resources and waste strategy.
While the Conservative manifesto saw “food strategy mentioned but no detail”, according to Friends of the Earth, Labour offered “grants to local authorities could support increased doorstep food waste collection” and a binding target to halve food waste by 2030.
The Lib Dems said they would introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems were given 0.5 for this, while the Conservative and the Green Party- which said it would promote initiatives to reduce food waste – scored 0.
All parties scored 0.5 on pledges to reduce plastic pollution, while Labour scored highest on ruling out the use of international offsetting in meeting UK carbon budgets, where it scored the maximum 1, while all other parties recorded 0.
Commenting after releasing the rankings, Dave Timms, Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, said environmental issues have been given greater priority in this election but more needs to be done.
“Many of the policies that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green party have put forward are commensurate with, or striving to meet, the challenges we face. It is disappointing we have not yet seen the same urgency, ambition or consistency from the Conservative party,” he explained.
Mr Timms added: “We don’t have time for yet more dither and delay – the next government needs to urgently start the work of transforming our economy and infrastructure.”
Upon release of the rankings, Labour’s shadow minister for waste and recycling tweeted the below video, saying he is pleased to have fed ideas into the ‘environment manifesto’ which came top of the rankings.
As Shadow Minister for Waste and Recycling I am proud to have fed ideas into Labour’s Environment Manifesto which was scored the highest out of all parties by @friends_earth .#RealChange https://t.co/N8CxXZ1CWd pic.twitter.com/P5473nEqgs
— Sandy Martin (@sandyofipswich) December 8, 2019
But Therese Coffey, who was influential in shaping the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy last year, was less supportive. She tweeted the below, hitting out at the coverage of the report.
The Green Party was also critical saying that the final ranking was based on additional pledges the Labour Party made to Friends of the Earth.
“We think Friends of the Earth have got this wrong,” a spokesperson said.
They added: “Going through a similar exercise, Greenpeace scored the Green Party with the highest score. Friends of the Earth themselves actually also score the Green Party manifesto the highest overall, but Labour have simply made additional promises that were not included in their manifesto.”
Many from across the political divide have said that the environment will play the biggest role in this election than it ever has before.
However from the waste and recycling sector, there appears to be fewer candidates standing than in previous years standing who have come from a waste background. Many of those who have fought elections previously are not standing this time around.
One candidate to watch out for in the early hours of Friday will be a champion of the environment, the well-known and long-standing recycling and sustainability advocate, Ray Georgeson. He is standing for the Liberal Democrats in Bishop Auckland, Durham. Mr Georgeson told letsrecycle.com that while it would be a hard fight in the constituency, he was pleased to be the Lib Dem candidate for the area.