The Conservative manifesto states the need for long-term policies, rather than the short-term approach of the past. This is clearly a very bold statement, but based upon the Party’s Part of this focus would be a significant expansion into nuclear power and gas, more investment into UK energy sources and ‘good value green energy’. The latter two however are not developed in the manifesto. The Party seeks to achieve a strong climate change agreement in Paris in December, yet however failing to specify how the deadlock currently plaguing the climate change negotiations would be tackeled
– Focus on investments into secure, affordable and low-carbon energy.
– Wishes to cut emissions in a ‘cost-effective way’
– Stop on onshore wind farm expansion, scrapping the subsidy and empowering local communities to stop new developments;
– Expansion of nuclear power and gas;
– Increased investment into UK energy sources
– Start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research, but only if it is ‘clear value for money’
The Conservative Party’s pledge to expand nuclear power is a welcomed step towards both decreasing the UK’s carbon dioxide emission in a sustainable way, but also in terms of making the UK a world leader for the nuclear renaissance that is necessary in order to efficiently combat climate change. However this initial good step lacks on details which for apparent reasons is a weakness. It does not for instance state whether this expansion will include increased funding for nuclear fusion research, which on a European scale is mainly based in the UK, nor does it state if research & development funding will be made available in order to develop other approaches to nuclear power (for instance, thorium or reactor modularity). It is however worth reiterating the point that it is a step in the right direction that should be expanded upon.
Start-up funding for new renewable technologies is another promising step in the right direction, however it might not represent the break with short-term approaches to energy policy that the manifesto sets out to do. Due it its very nature, it is often very hard to with certainty determine which paths will deliver value for the taxpayers money. Whilst advocating a blank cheque-approach would be folly, it is important that we provide scientists with secure funding for projects into different renewable technologies, be that wave power (with a commercial breakthrough possible within the next few years) or nuclear fusion (commercial breakthrough within a few decades, but with an incredible potential).
The manifesto’s bold statement, that a break with short term approach recently seen in regards to energy and climate policy, is important. It acknowledges the problem that is prevalent, namely that politicians have become increasingly short termed in their thinking, becoming ever more limited to the term in office that they have. However, a sustainable and successful energy & environment policy must have considerably longer timescales. The Conservative Party manifesto however falls short as no real solutions are being presented. Whilst its stance on expanding nuclear power is admirable and the need for a good climate deal in Paris, there is a scarcity of detail. This weakens the manifesto considerably, however it still marks maybe a partial break with the past.