Reform manifesto: a contract with the polluters

Reform’s ‘contract with the people’ proposes to rip up nature protection, roll back on climate action, and bring in cruel and inhumane migration policies. This briefing highlights an agenda that would be disastrous for people and the planet. 


Reform’s ‘contract with the people’ proposes to rip up nature protection, roll back on climate action, and bring in cruel and inhumane migration policies.

Given they are bankrolled by fossil fuel interests, polluting industries and climate deniers we should not be surprised about their disdain for action on climate and nature and passion for fracking. Farage is no ‘man of the people’, and Reform’s manifesto would worsen the cost of living crisis and increase inequality. This briefing highlights an agenda that would be disastrous for people and the planet.

A previous draft of Reform’s contract available online showed what they really think about climate change. It’s a list of bogus arguments lifted straight from the climate denial playbook:

“Net zero means reducing man made CO2 emissions to stop climate change. It can’t. Climate change has happened for millions of years, before man made CO2 emissions, and will always change. We are better to adapt to warming, rather than pretend we can stop it. Up to 10 times more people die of cold than warmth. In Roman Britain some 2,000 years ago, it was 2 degrees warmer than now. Grapes for wine were grown in Yorkshire.

CO2 is essential for photosynthesis to enable plant growth. CO2 only represents 0.04% of the atmosphere; the average garden greenhouse has 3 times more! The UK produces only 1% of global CO2 emissions, yet China produces 27%. China & India are building hundreds of coal fired power stations. Even the IPCC admits Net Zero would make no difference to sea level rise for 200-1,000 years; in other words they do not have a clue.”

Net Zero

Reform policies

  • “Scrap Net Zero and Related Subsidies.”
  • “Scrap Annual £10 Billion of Renewable Energy Subsidies.”
  • “Start fast-track licences of North Sea gas and oil. Grant shale gas licences [Fracking] on test sites for 2 years. Enable major production when safety is proven, with local compensation schemes.”
  • They state that instead of net zero, we can protect our environment with “more tree planting, more recycling and less single use plastics”.
  • “Net Zero is pushing up bills, damaging British industries like steel, and making us less secure. We can protect our environment with more tree planting, more recycling and less single use plastics. New technology will help, but we must not impoverish ourselves in pursuit of unaffordable, unachievable global CO2 targets.”

Greenpeace response

This rhetoric would be laughable if the implication of climate denial weren’t so serious.

Far from Reform’s bizarre Roman inspired utopian vision of growing wine in Yorkshire, the implications of a world, and a country, where climate impacts have taken full force is as many scientists agree “semi-dystopian“. The threat of the climate crisis and extreme weather on our basic needs, such as food supply, is very real, and only working to reduce our emissions can tackle this threat.

Scrapping the UK’s net zero targets and the goal of clean energy independence will not save anyone money. In fact – it will make life significantly more expensive by forcing us to rely even more on fossil fuels. The last time a political leader “cut the green crap” it saved not one penny and wound up costing households £40-60 each. As the world lurches from crises to crises and fossil fuel prices soar, this time could be even worse. The Office of Budget Responsibility has calculated that the cost of sticking with fossil fuels through 2050 would be double getting off them. Our heat, power and energy has to come from somewhere. Farage just wants to keep us hooked on expensive fossil fuels and their profiteering suppliers.

Beyond making life more uncertain and expensive this pledge will also have serious implications for our economy, health, the cost of living and Britain’s place on the world stage. Britain had a reputation as a global leader on climate change that the Conservatives have undermined. A new Government has a crucial opportunity to restore this leadership. Failing to lead by example not only ignores the UK’s responsibility to go further, faster on climate due to our historic emissions, but it also discourages other countries with higher emissions to follow our lead and reduce global emissions.

Farage’s pledge to enable “major production” of fracked gas from the British countryside may please his big oil friends but even aside from the impact on the local area it won’t reduce bills, or even imports. North Sea oil and gas licenses take an average of 28 years to come online, and are not a quick fix to reducing our bills or energy security. These proposals benefit the very same oil and gas companies who made billions in profits off our hard earned bill money and nobody else.

As opposed to harming our economy, net zero is actively helping our economy to prosper. Tripling offshore wind capacity would support an additional 10,000 new jobs a year and boost the economy by £25 billion between 2024-2035. TUC (Trades Union Congress) analysis shows that action to meet the UK’s climate commitments has the potential to create over a million good new jobs.

Reform’s tree planting, recycling and cutting single use plastic proposals are nowhere near sufficient for protecting the environment.

NHS ‘vs’ climate spending

Reform policies

Greenpeace response

Funding climate measures actively helps the NHS. Tackling cold homes, through insulation, could save the NHS £540 million per year. Tackling air pollution could save the NHS and social care £43 million a year. Increasingly common flooding and heat waves have severe impacts on health and can be lethal. Work-related injuries increase during heat waves, and interrupted sleep patterns due to high temperatures can cost the UK economy £60bn a year, or 1.5% to 2% of GDP.

Scrapping environmental protections

Reform policy

“Legislate to Scrap EU Regulations with Immediate Effect. Britain still has over 6,700 retained EU laws, which we will rescind. British laws on State Aid, Competition, Employment, Net Zero and the Environment are still based on EU regulations.”

Greenpeace response

This would remove most of our remaining nature protections, crucial rules to protect our countryside,   keep air and water pollution in check and stop the loss of our precious plants and wildlife. Alongside Farage’s plan to bring back fracking it is nothing less than a full-on attack on nature.

Transport and utilities infrastructure

Reform policies

  • “Stop the War on Drivers. Legislate to ban ULEZ Clean Air Zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Scrapping Net Zero means no more bans on petrol and diesel cars and no legal requirements for manufacturers to sell electric cars. We will keep the speed limit low where safety is critical. Otherwise, 20 MPH zones will be scrapped.”

Greenpeace response

Air pollution kills 9 million people globally per year, (more than smoking) and in the UK nearly 50,000 adults die prematurely because of air pollution. This policy amounts to an effective ban on local authorities’ ability to tackle toxic air – an issue which disproportionately impacts the poorest communities in our country.

The transition to cleaner forms of transport can be accompanied by measures to ensure the costs don’t fall on the poorest and everyone benefits. For example, a £1.5 billion per year scrappage scheme to enable drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport, and measures to reduce public transport fares. These measures can be paid for through increasing wealth and property taxes on the super-rich – for example the richest 1% of Britons who have a total wealth of £2.8tn.


Reform policies

  • “Scrap climate-related farming subsidies. Productive land must be farmed, not be used for solar farms or rewilding. Replace current subsidies with direct payments. Stop Natural England from taking action that damages farmers.”

Greenpeace response

We reject this artificial conflict between farming and nature. Given that intensive agriculture has caused arable soils to lose about 40 to 60% of their organic carbon, and that UK farmers are increasingly exposed to climate impacts – from extreme heat, to flooding and drought, it’s clearly in everyone’s interests to ensure agriculture works hand in hand with environmental protection.  Renewables and rewilding projects are compatible with sustainable food production in the UK and can be implemented in a way that benefits farmers.

Fishing and coastal communities

Reform policies

  • “Ban foreign supertrawlers from UK waters”
  • “Revitalise the UK’s Fishing Fleet. Tax incentives and vocational training to increase UK fishing fleets. Include fishing communities in policy making.”
  • “Guarantee Sustainable Stocks. Implement a ‘dynamic management system’. Work with national and regional partners such as the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.”

Greenpeace response

The proposed ban on supertrawlers in UK waters is a good idea – though it comes from a place of worrying isolationism. Supertrawlers are monster ships capable of catching thousands of tonnes of fish in a single trip. They spend thousands of hours fishing in UK offshore marine protected areas each year. While Reform’s commitment on supertrawlers is stronger than either Labour or Conservative manifestos when it comes to tackling the scourge of overfishing in UK waters, it needs to be backed up with a wider commitment to leadership on ocean protection globally so that industrial fishing isn’t simply displaced elsewhere. One way to demonstrate leadership on global ocean protection would be to confirm a commitment to ratify the Global Oceans Treaty into UK law early in the next Parliament, to help pave the way to protecting at least 30% of global oceans by 2030. Both the Conservative and Labour parties have committed to do this.


Reform policies

  • Leave the European Convention on Human Rights, detain all migrants who arrived through an irregular route (erroneously referred to as ‘illegal’) without legal aid
  • Freeze ‘non-essential’ immigration
  • Immediate deportation for foreign nationals with past criminal convictions.

Greenpeace response

For all its talk of ‘British values’, this manifesto appears to be based on a value system of racism and cruelty. Their flagship migration policies are an inhumane and unworkable attack on fundamental human rights for cheap political gain, increasing the punishment dished out by an immigration system that disproportionately targets people of colour.

What's next?