Green Party pledges bottle deposits and environmental law protection
The introduction of a bottle deposit scheme to fight plastic waste and a new Environmental Protection Act are among the key priorities of the Green Party in the upcoming election, co-leader Caroline Lucas announced at the launch of the Green Party Environment Manifesto on Thursday (11 May).
Speaking in front of a crowd of conservation activists at the manifesto’s launch event at Woodberry Wetlands in North London, Lucas outlined the party’s green vision for the UK.
Key plans include a new Environmental Protection Act to maintain environmental standards following Brexit, introducing a bottle deposit scheme to fight plastic waste, and ending the monopoly of the Big Six energy companies.
Emphasising the vital and indispensable role the natural world plays in the global economy, providing society with everything from the food we eat to the raw materials that go into the products we use every day, the manifesto sees a return of the environment to the forefront of Green campaigning after choosing to focus on social issues during the 2015 general election campaign.
New Environmental Protection Act
One of the Green Party’s flagship environment policies will be a new Environmental Protection Act which will seek to enshrine in UK law the environmental protections stipulated by EU regulations and to set new long-term objectives for environmental protection.
The Act would aim to:
- establish a Green Guarantee in Brexit Negotiations and Trade Deals to ensure all EU regulations are kept and strengthened;
- create a new Office for Environmental Protection and an Environmental Court to oversee and enforce new long-term environmental goals;
- build a network of inter-linking ecological spaces on both land and sea to protect the UK’s wild spaces to allow them to prosper; and
- establish a right for every person in the UK to have access to a healthy and safe green space in their community.
Fighting plastic waste
The Green Party has also pledged to address the blight of plastic waste in the UK and improve resource efficiency to put a stop to the 16 million bottles that end up in the UK environment every day.
In an effort to do this, the Greens say they will promote a culture of reusing and refilling, in line with the long-term Green goal of a transition to a circular economy, through:
- the introduction of a bottle deposit scheme so that consumers can return their used bottles to be reused rather than throwing them away;
- the introduction of free public water dispensers and a community refill scheme; and
- a ban on unnecessary single-use plastics.
Among the other environmental priorities of the Green Party is making the UK’s energy system ‘more just and fair’, for consumers’ bank balances as well as for the natural environment.
Pledges to achieve this aim include:
- keeping fossil fuels in the ground by banning fracking, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and facilitating a transition for communities that are dependent on fossil fuel jobs;
- introducing new support for wind and solar panels and investing in vehicle electrification;
- creating a new Green Investment and Innovation Centre to help give impetus and financial support to the transition to a low-carbon economy; and
- end the monopoly of the Big Six energy companies and lowering prices for small customers through introducing local energy alternatives and progressive energy tariffs.
Economic prosperity 'depends on the natural world'
At the event, Lucas said: “The environment has been wilfully ignored by the political mainstream and our climate and our countryside will pay the price of an environment-free election. With 2016 the hottest year on record, and a climate-denier in the White House, the need for bold and dynamic action on climate change has never been more urgent.
“The UK must lead the world in building a green economy and investing in a viable future - one that respects and nurtures the natural systems on which we depend. The Greens are the only party to truly recognise the importance of the environment.
“Our economic prosperity depends on the natural world. It is the ultimate source of everything we make and use - from food and materials, to the air we breathe. Even the digital economy depends on rare earth metals and huge amounts of energy. Building a successful economy is not at odds with protecting our environment, it is impossible without it. A prosperous, thriving future will be green - or not at all.”
With the election manifestos for the rest of the main political parties still to be released, it will be interesting to see which, if any, decide to give the environment a major part in the vision that they want to communicate to the electorate.
You can read the full Green Party Environment Manifesto on the Green Party website.