Friends of the Earth Scotland have called on all parties standing in the UK General Election to deliver transformative policies that will tackle the climate emergency. Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation has urged parties to unveil plans that will drive a transition away from fossil fuels to a fairer economy powered by renewable energy.

Despite public concern about climate change being at a record high, Friends of the Earth Scotland said parties are so far failing to respond to the public’s demand for radical action to cut climate emissions and tackle inequality.

The environmental campaign group’s ‘Manifesto for a Fossil Free UK’ touches on 5 key areas.

  • Redirect support away from fossil fuels to renewable energy
  • Upholding and advancing environmental standards if we leave the EU
  • Transforming our transport system
  • Focus powers across portfolios to tackle the Climate Emergency
  • Ensuring that polluting companies are not permitted to attend the 2020 UN climate negotiations

Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon commented,

“Politicians from all parties have recognised that we are living in a climate emergency, but not enough of them are acting like it or putting in place the transformative changes needed. The next Government will lead the UK into a crucial period in the fight against climate change, so committing to specific, ambitious policies to reduce our emissions must be a central plank of any credible manifesto.

“Our response to the climate crisis in the next decade will define this century. We need to see system-wide changes to how we heat our homes, how we move around and what we consume, not disjointed, tokenistic responses. Climate science demands action across the board – from expanding public transport through public ownership, a food system that works for people and nature, to new taxes for high polluting activities.”


“If parties are serious about reducing our contribution to climate change, they must commit to ending exploration for new sources of oil and gas, and instead plan a just transition to an economy powered by renewable energy.

“This means ending the millions of pounds of public money being spent prolonging the life of the climate-wrecking oil and gas industry, and redirecting that support to rapidly developing renewable energy alternatives, creating decent green jobs and enabling a just transition for communities and workers.”


“Transport is the biggest source of climate-changing emissions in both Scotland and the UK. Decades of disastrous transport planning has created car-choked roads causing enormous harm to public health as they belch out toxic air pollution.

“Public transport should be clean, reliable, affordable and operated in the public interest rather than for private profit. We can’t tackle the climate emergency without transforming how we get around by prioritising safe, sustainable travel and public transport.”


“The European Union currently provides a number of vital environmental safeguards for UK citizens, from setting standards for the quality of air we breathe, to providing a route of legal appeals for breaches of environmental law. There is no good Brexit for the environment, but the next UK Government must ensure that we continue to have the same levels of environmental protection if we depart the EU and ensure that any future Trade Deals do not undermine hard-won environmental and consumer-protection standards.”


“In 2020 the world’s eyes will be on Glasgow as the UK hosts the UN’s climate negotiations. The UK has the chance to make a stand for climate justice and must commit to kicking out polluting businesses and putting people on the frontline of the climate crisis at the forefront of these talks. ”


Key facts about the importance of climate commitments

The UK’s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already operating oil and gas fields will exceed the UK’s share in relation to the Paris climate goals – yet industry and government aim to extract 20 billion barrels.

In 2018, UK transport CO2 emissions were 121.4 Mt, just 3.2% lower than in 1990. One third (33 per cent) of all carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 were from transport – the large majority of these coming from road transport.
Transport (including International Aviation and Shipping) was responsible for just 37 per cent of Scotland’s greenhouse gases in 2017. Transport emissions increased by 0.4 per cent from 1990 to 2017.

Public Health England state that air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.

Former head of Scottish Environment Protection Agency Professor Campbell Gemmell has said there was a need for a “new and coherent” governance system to act as a safeguard once EU protections and oversight disappear after Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Greener UK analysis has determined that the environment is now under greater threat than at any point since the start of the Brexit process.

Concern for the environment at record highs (youGov June 2019)
Polling shows 85% of Britons are now concerned about climate change, with the majority (52%) very concerned(Ipsos Mori August 2019)
A majority of people in the UK say the climate crisis will influence how they vote in the general election, with younger voters feeling particularly strongly about the issue. (Opinium polling for ClientEarth September 2019)

Notes to Editors

Friends of the Earth Scotland Fossil Free UK Manifesto is available at https://foe.scot/resource/general-election-manifesto/ 

Climate impact from transport:

UK Government climate change statistics https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/790626/2018-provisional-emissions-statistics-report.pdf

Scottish Government climate change statistics https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/pages/3/

Air pollution death toll https://www.gov.uk/government/news/public-health-england-publishes-air-pollution-evidence-review

Greener UK analysis https://greeneruk.org/environmental-safeguards-under-greatest-threat-start-brexit-process

Scots natural environment at risk from ‘inadequate’ Brexit plans, Prof Gemmell report http://www.scotlink.org/link-thinks/scots-natural-environment-at-rick-from-inadequate-brexit-plans/

Polling results
YouGov June 2019 https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/06/05/concern-environment-record-highs

Ipsos Mori August 2019 https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/concern-about-climate-change-reaches-record-levels-half-now-very-concerned

Opinium polling for ClientEarth, September 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/30/climate-crisis-affects-how-majority-will-vote-in-uk-election-poll

United Nations climate negotiations, known as Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26), will be hosted in Glasgow in late 2020

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.