With just a few days to go until the general election, it’s hard to avoid the ads, interviews, soundbites and even memes from the main parties. There’s a lot of information to take in and it can be difficult to find the facts in amongst the noise.

Green policies are under scrutiny and probably more so than any previous election, as environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, and pollution become increasingly pressing.

Earlier this month 408 of the UK’s leading climate scientists published an open letter, calling on political leaders to pledge ‘ambitious action on climate change’.

They warn that “any leader who doesn’t make stronger climate action a priority will place the prosperity and wellbeing of the British people at severe risk. [And they won’t] deserve support in the election” 

On 22nd June around 60k people gathered in London for the Restore Nature Now march. For many, the environment is one of the most important factors in deciding where their vote will go.

If environmental protection and green policies are important to you and a factor in how you vote, our summary of where the main parties stand might help make things clearer.

Firstly, Make Sure Your Vote Is Counted

Democracy is something that for most of us was won, not given (it’s less than a hundred years since women had an equal right to vote).  Come July 4th, you can tick a box on a slip of paper and your vote will be counted – and it’s equal to everyone else’s.

If you’re a disillusioned or uninterested voter, you might find this difficult to buy into, but your vote really can make a difference! With only two thirds of registered voters in the UK actually turning out to vote, that missing third could change the result.

Some MPs are elected on tiny margins, which is why politicians and volunteers spend election day knocking on doors and encouraging people out to vote.

In the last election the lowest margin was in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, with just 57 votes separating the 1st and 2nd place. And in Kensington, just 150 votes meant Conservatives took over from Labour in that seat. In those marginal seats, every vote really does count.

Secondly, Who Should You Vote For?

We’re not here to promote any particular party, but we’ve picked out some of the areas that we think are important around waste, recycling and the environment, to help you to be more informed.

What are the main political party positions on Waste and Recycling?

The recent Simpler Recycling Reforms weren't included in the published manifestos of the main parties, which may mean that all parties plan to roll them out as part of their sustainable development strategy.

There were no other specific waste management policies included in any of the manifestos. However, we've included below details on what each party pledges to do on waste and recycling for businesses and households:

How will existing environmental policies such as 'Simpler Recycling' be affected by the general election?

Despite an early election leaving upcoming changes to recycling reforms up in the air on paper, Defra has already done all the hard work behind the scenes in wake of the upcoming Simpler Recycling, Extender Producer Warranty and Deposit Return Schemes coming into effect early next year.

This makes it highly unlikely that there will be changes to the upcoming legislation, especially with there not being substantial differences between each main party's stance on waste and recycling. This means that waste management policies are unlikely to change and businesses should get ahead and get compliant by working with a trusted waste management provider like First Mile

What are the main political party positions on Net Zero?

In 2019, then Prime Minister Theresa May made the 2050 net zero target a legal requirement for government.  The Climate Change Committee say the UK is currently not on track to meet this requirement, so it’s one of the differentiating factors across the main parties – when will it be reached and how? These are the net zero timelines presented in each manifesto:

What are the main political party positions on The Natural Environment?

The Environment Act 2021 is the framework of legislation that was introduced after our exit from the EU. It includes targets on biodiversity, air pollution, water quality and waste reduction along with a legal duty for the Government to halt the decline of wildlife by 2030. The environmental impact of these policies is significant, as they aim to protect and restore natural ecosystems.

Earlier this month, Wildlife & Countryside Link - a coalition of charities including the RSPB, the National Trust and WWF UK - challenged political leaders on their plans to halt the decline. They highlighted that unless they reach this 2030 target, they will be in breach of the law. “The next Government will need to commit significant resources and regulations to make nature recovery a reality.”

Water quality and the illegal dumping of sewage by water companies has been a high-profile issue recently and consequently, most of the parties have addressed this in their manifesto. Environmental policy making, including the implementation of regulations and sustainable development will play a big role in swaying voters this year.

Here's an overview of the main parties environmental pledges:

What are the main political party policies on Energy?

All major parties plan to invest in home-grown energy, with the aim of reducing our reliance on overseas supply.

Sustainable development will likely play a key role in shaping energy policies to ensure long-term environmental and economic benefits.

Are governments doing enough to combat pollution and climate change?

Who do you think has the green policies that make the most sense? Do they go far enough for you?  These are just some of the highlights from each party, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail. How will the promises in the manifestos be funded, implemented, and monitored?

Climate change can’t just be one section in a manifesto, it impacts every part of our lives – health, the economy, our homes, how we travel. We can’t tell you which party is in the best position to tackle it, but we hope this has helped a little.

If you’d like more information on how to talk to your local candidates about their environmental policies, Greenpeace have put together a voter checklist that you could use as a starting point. 

If your preferred candidate doesn’t tick all the boxes on climate action, will you still be putting a tick next to their name?