5 Worrying Facts About the DUP and The Environment
Despite ongoing national crises such as the Grenfell fire — and the fact that Brexit talks are due to begin this week — Theresa May is yet to form a strong and stable government. Lacking the necessary number of Conservative MPs, she will continue talks with Northern Irish party the DUP this week.
Though the deal with the DUP looks unlikely to be a formal coalition like the Lib Dem/Conservative deal in 2010, the party will help pass Tory policies — and no doubt expect something in return.
So as a confused nation wonders what this all means, we took a look at where the DUP stand. Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know about the party’s environmental record before Wednesday’s Queens Speech.
1. In the DUP’s 2017 manifesto, the words “environment” and “climate change” are not mentioned once
The document is intended to lay out the DUP’s vision for the future, but while it includes a policy on Armed Forces Day — it has not a word on arguably the biggest challenge facing our generation. There is a fleeting reference to a plan for UK energy, unfortunately we’re left to guess if that includes renewables or not.
2. But it’s not just (a lack of) words. The DUP’s actions should worry us too.
The former environment minister Michelle McIlveen blocked attempts to introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act last year. This means that unlike Scotland and Wales, who’ve enacted their own climate laws, Northern Ireland has no laws to promote cutting climate-harming emissions. One Northern Irish politician branded this an “embarrassment.”
3. They won’t challenge the Tories on Heathrow
The DUP back the Tories plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The plans would fuel more climate change, creating over 50% more flights at what is already Europe’s largest airport. Scientists have warned that this will drastically undermine the UK’s ability to meet emission targets agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. We should be persuading the government to change tact on Heathrow — but the DUP are unlikely to help.
4. The 10 DUP MPs have a bad voting record on climate change laws.
One of the DUP’s ten MPs is a proud climate sceptic — stating that human caused climate change is a “gigantic con” and a “hysterical semi-religion.” Ian Paisley Jr, the son of the DUP’s founder, also consistently votes against action on climate change, while other MPs have mixed records on the issue.
5. The party did try to encourage the use of renewable energy…but it turned into a massive scandal.
The policy was dubbed “cash for ash” as for each £1 spent on renewable heating, businesses received £1.60 in subsidies. It meant that the more power you used, the more cash companies could earn. Not exactly great for the planet, or for the reputation of green schemes.
Clearly on issues like Heathrow the DUP and the Conservatives are on the same team. But the Conservative manifesto described the UK as at the forefront of action against global climate change. The party also proved they could make climate progress when they signed the Paris Agreement — we would really hate to see a deal with the DUP risk further positive moves by a Conservative-led government.
We’ll get a clearer picture of things when the Queen’s Speech is revealed on Wednesday. But a UK government, in any form, should remember that climate sceptics and climate inaction are becoming incredibly unpopular. If politicians try to send us backwards there is simply no way that people across the world — and organisations like Greenpeace — will stand by and let that happen.
About India Thorogood
Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace UK