Tories ally with climate sceptic Democratic Unionist Party

The Conservative party is to form a government with the support of the DUP, which made no mention of the environment or climate change in its manifesto. 

The Tories won 318 seats, 12 fewer than in the 2015 elections, while Labour increased their number of MPs by 29, to 261. The DUP won ten seats, up two from 2015.

The DUP’s manifesto made no mention of the environment, or climate change. The party supports leaving the EU and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The party’s education and Treasury spokesperson, Sammy Wilson, was heavily criticised for being a climate change sceptic when he was the province’s environment minister in 2008-09. 

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said that it was worrying that the party propping up Theresa May's government had a stance on climate change that was closer to that of Donald Trump than that of Downing Street. 

‘The DUP has opposed climate legislation and their manifesto doesn't mention climate or the environment once. They even have a former environment minister who dubbed climate change a 'gigantic con', he said, referring to Wilson. 

‘If May wants to keep her manifesto promise of global climate leadership, she should seek the earliest opportunity to distance her party from the DUP's stance. Trump's decision to ignore science and pull out of the Paris agreement has cost the US international prestige and influence. Britain cannot afford to weaken its position, least of all when Brexit negotiations are about to start,’ he said. 

On energy security, the DUP said that it wants to increase interconnection, market integration and the development of new generation capacity. It has pledged a comprehensive new energy strategy to deal with security of supply as well as the future of renewable energy policy in Northern Ireland. 

There have been no major changes among MPs with key roles in the environment and climate change. Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom held her South Northamptonshire seat, as did secretary for business and industrial strategy Greg Clark in Tunbridge Wells. Transport secretary Chris Grayling also held Epsom and Ewell. However, housing minister Gavin Barwell lost his Croydon Central seat to Labour. 

Neil Parish, Conservative chair of the parliamentary environment, food and rural affairs committee, kept his seat in Tiverton and Honiton. Mary Creagh, Labour chair of the parliamentary environmental audit committee, held her seat in Wakefield. 

Conservative Zach Goldsmith won Richmond Park back from the Liberal Democrats by 45 votes. He lost a recent by-election in the constituency when he stood as an independent, after resigning as the Tory MP over the party’s backing of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. 

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas held her seat in Brighton Pavilion, winning 52% of the vote. The party failed to win its target seat in Bristol West. Its candidate Molly Scott-Cato, who is also MEP for the South West and Gibraltar came third. 

There were no major changes to Labour environment spokespeople. Shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey held Salford and Eccles; shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman was reelected in Workington. Barry Gardiner, shadow secretary of international trade, who frequently speaks out on environmental issues, held Brent North. 

Martin Baxter, IEMA’s chief policy advisor, said that the election outcome raised significant challenges for forming a government and developing and implementing legislation, especially against the backdrop of Brexit. 

‘IEMA members expressed significant concern in the run up to the election on a wide range of sustainability issues including air quality, climate change and circular economy. It is vital that the short-term uncertainties are quickly resolved so that long-term challenges can be properly addressed,’ he said. 

Author: 

Catherine Early was deputy editor of the environmentalist from September 2014 to June 2017. She has covered energy and environmental issues for over 13 years, including for the ENDS Report, Planning magazine, Windpower Monthly, Business Voice, Climate Change Wealth, Fresh Produce Journal, Environment Business and Real Power magazines. She has also written for the Guardian and was a finalist in the 2009 Guardian international development journalism award.

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