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Green credentials of the next Prime Minister

2 minute read

Boris Johnson’s resignation on the 7th July 2022 triggered a Conservative leadership race to become the new Prime Minister. But just how green are the credentials of his potential successor?

The final countdown

Until a new Prime Minister is announced on 5th September 2022, Boris Johnson will remain in post. The leadership contest to replace him has already passed through several stages, with MPs whittling down the original eight candidates to the final two: Rishi Sunak MP and Liz Truss MP. All members of the Conservative Party will now be able to vote on who will be selected as the new leader of the party and the next UK Prime Minister.

With the recent unprecedented heatwaves in the UK highlighting the climate crisis once again, we’ve taken a look at both candidates to see what they stand for when it comes to the environment.

Rishi Sunak MP

Rishi Sunak MP has held his position as Conservative Member of Parliament for Richmond since 2015. Sunak is well experienced in the financial world, working in investment banking and serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer between February 2020 and July 2022.

Rishi Sunak MP

Credit: Chris McAndrew | CC License 3.0

So far, Rishi has:

  • Publicly backed net-zero targets to tackle climate change.
  • Pledged to protect green belts and said housing planning would focus on brown belts.
  • Committed to protect our ocean by introducing pilots of Highly Protected Marine Areas and safeguarding the 372 MPAs currently in place.
  • Promised to support ocean protection through domestic funding.
  • Committed to help some of the world’s poorest communities to protect the ocean from some of the most damaging impacts such as plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat loss.

Liz Truss MP

Liz Truss MP has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Southwest Norfolk since 2010 and Foreign Secretary since September 2021. She was also Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between July 2014 to July 2016. Truss is a qualified accountant and has previously worked for the major energy giant, Shell.

Liz Truss MP

Credit: Chris McAndrew | CC License 3.0

So far, Liz has:

  • Publicly backed net-zero targets to tackle climate change.
  • Vocally supported upcoming climate and nature conferences, such as COP27 and COP15, stating that if she is voted in as the new Prime Minister, she would attend the conferences and showcase the UK as a leader on the world stage.

The future in their hands

A healthy marine environment delivers hugely valuable public benefits, including producing half of the world’s oxygen, regulating our climate, and providing energy, food, transport, recreation and tourism.

While both candidates have announced some pledges towards tackling the climate crisis, serious questions remain of the level of political commitments to address the size of the challenges we face.

Whoever leads as Prime Minister, we need the UK Government to deliver on existing promises, such as those to properly protect our Marine Protected Areas. We also need them to rise to the challenge and deliver even more, such as implementing a robust UK Chemicals Strategy and investing in ocean recovery.