The biggest headline of note this month is the recent calling of a General Election.
The largely unexpected move from the Conservatives has caught many off guard. It’s impossible to judge which way the results might swing. But what’s certain is the impact they will have for every one of us, and for low carbon business.
UK General Election; what do we know?
The Telegraph reports that Theresa May has called the Election for 8 June 2017, amid polls that indicate she could win a huge Tory majority in Parliament.
Some polls, says the broadsheet, have the Tories at almost double the vote share of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, indicating that the most likely outcome of the election would be a landslide victory that would increase her party’s current working majority of 17 in the House of Commons.
That the Conservatives will claim victory seems indicated by most polling. But today’s politics are fractured, uncertain and untested. In the era of Brexit and Trump, and with an election in France looking too close to call, there’s no saying with surety just what might happen.
What could the results mean for low carbon?
EDIE writes that a Tory landslide would bring with it serious concerns over accountability and scrutiny exerted by a weak, ineffective opposition.
‘In the energy and environment sphere of Westminster politicians, there is a very real possibility of a collapse of Labour MPs with great expertise in climate change and the environment,’ it fears.
‘In the energy and environment sphere of Westminster politicians, there is a very real possibility of a collapse of Labour MPs with great expertise in climate change and the environment,’
Opinion seems certain that Theresa May wants an election to increase her majority, basically freeing her up to move without restriction on Brexit. This, as EDIE puts it, ‘Would also allow the PM to sidestep troublesome right-wing Brexiteers within her own party, providing relative freedom to negotiate a difficult Brexit deal on her own terms.’
EDIE voices further fears. ‘At the heart of the upcoming Industrial Strategy lies a pledge to create an ambitious-yet-realistic decarbonisation agenda, manifested in the proposed Clean Growth Plan.
‘But after several false promises over the document’s publication date, and even a change in name, it remains to be seen when, and indeed if, the Plan will ever see the light of day.’
And, EDIE says it is now improbable that either the Clean Growth Plan or 25-Year Environment Plan will be published before the country heads to the polls, as the purdah (pre-election period) rule prevents central and local government from making legislative changes six weeks before a scheduled election.
The truth of the Election and low carbon
The facts are; this Election isn’t about low carbon. It’s about Brexit, and about the Conservative desire to finally right the troublesome EU issues that have dogged the party for years. In fact, there’s a chance environmental sustainability won’t even figure in the manifestos.
Low carbon professionals may rightly fear that green business has just dropped a rung lower on the priority list. Day to day business will again by disrupted by the call to vote. Investment certainty, the value of Sterling, the ability to make new deals with EU and global partners are once again on hold.
It may be that in years to come, the outcomes of Brexit and its political upheaval are positive for the UK. But in the meantime, the low carbon sector, and UK business in general, must grapple with degrees of uncertainty hitherto unseen.
What will become of EU Environmental Law and the Great Repeal Bill? What about trading laws, standards and the ease of moving goods and manufacture throughout Europe?
All are once again in jeopardy. What’s needed more than ever now is political stability, with a chance to actually get back on track with the day to day business of transitioning to low carbon.
But is that goal ever likely to regain political significance? Time will tell.