Seahorse's Environmental Guide to Conservative Party Conference

This is Seahorse’s environmental guide to Conservative Party Conference. After a turbulent 12 months, CPC18 is set to be a packed four days with 100 stands, 450 events and 11,000 people.

We’ve sifted through the fringe guide to pick out the must-see events and set out the environmental announcements Gove could make to cement his title as one of the UK’s best Environment Secretaries.

To our delight, environmental announcements seem to be all the rage. In this week alone, Michael Gove called for the protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 and Penny Mordant the Development Secretary committed £2 million for the protection of endangered species and The Global Plastic Action to avert the growth in plastic pollution by 2025. There is also a promising Agriculture Bill waiting to be debated in the Commons.

Credit to the government – these are very strong announcements. But the Labour Party showed at their Conference that they’re after the title for greenest party. They have pledged to boost low carbon jobs and to insulate the country’s inefficient homes with the hope of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This is a goal that over a hundred of cross-party MPs have rallied around but that government has yet to commit to. This has put Labour slightly ahead of the Conservatives, who, at this stage, have pledged to look into its feasibility and, as of today, will be joining the Coalition for Carbon Neutrality. 

So, what can the Conservatives do to win back first place, or have they come out too early this week to steal back the limelight?

A strong Environment Bill. We know it’s coming, and we’ve been promised a green watchdog, but how independent will it be, and will it hold government to account if it fails to meet its environmental obligations? What ambitious targets will we set to make our air and our water cleaner and to restore declining nature and wildlife across the UK? Will vital environmental principles be in the bill too?

A world leader on Electric Vehicles. Will the UK bring forward the ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 2040 to 2030, in line with other leading countries to show the ambition needed to stop deadly air pollution? Germany will phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2030; Norway and the Netherlands by 2025; and Scotland by 2032.

A sustainable fishing industry. We’ve been waiting to see a fisheries bill for a while now. The fishing sector has been made lots of promises, but so far, the white paper that was published last month is light on detail. What are we hoping for? Sustainability at the heart and better access to fishing opportunities for small scale fleets – they make up the majority of the UK’s fleet (79%) and have a much lower environmental impact.

The must-see conference events…

This year’s Conference contains an abundance of green fringe events, ranging from plastics and nature conservation to electric vehicles and decarbonisation. Amongst this sea of green, it would be easy to get lost. For the active environmentalists to the armchair activists, this is your reliable, go-to advice for the best conference experience. 

Sunday

16:00 Greener UK in Conversation with Michael Gove

The first major fringe event you will not want to miss. Greener UK is bound to scratch beneath the surface of Gove’s promises for the Environment Bill and expose some of those much-needed specifics. Top tip: the event is RSVP only so make sure to contact pmcnamee@green-alliance.org.uk for the chance to go.

18:00 Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Reception at The National Sea Life Centre

Drink with the fishes and Michael Gove to get all the best environmental news and gossip.

Monday

8:00 How do you solve a problem like marine plastics? hosted by Tearfund, CFID and CEN

If you’re the plastic fanatic, wake up early to attend in the Hyatt Regency Soprano.

12:45 Our Planet: Restoring Nature after Brexit hosted by WWF

WWF’s event discussing how Brexit could be make the UK a leader in international efforts to protect the environment with Tony Juniper CBE (WWF), Amy Mount (Greener UK), Rebecca Pow (MP), Zac Goldsmith (MP) and David Wheeldon (Sky). Held at Hyatt Regency Dolce.

13:30 Accelerating the Transition to Electric Vehicles and Cleaner Air hosted by UK100 and CEN

Seahorse Managing Director, Isabella Gornall, joins Polly Billington, Neil Parish and Jonathan Cook to discuss the essential decarbonisation of the transport sector and how this can help clean up our toxic air. Held at Austin Court Boulton/Faraday Room.

14:30 Gove’s Speech

It is likely that Gove’s highly-anticipated speech will be around 14:30 in the Symphony Hall.

Top tip: beat the crowds of the Symphony Hall and come to the UK100 and CEN panel but keep informed about the best bits of Gove’s speech via Twitter through @GreenerUK_ and @Rebecca_Newsom Head of Politics at Greenpeace UK.

16:30 UK’s role in a new deal for global nature hosted by Seahorse Environmental Communications

Head over to Novotel Wedgwood Suite to hear this experienced panel including Rt Hon Justine Greening MP (former International Development Secretary), Zac Goldsmith MP, Dr Mike Barrett (Director of Science and Conservation at WWF) and Joanna Elliot (Senior Director Conservation Partnerships at Fauna and Flora International).

19:30 Sustainability Hub low carbon reception with Conservative Environment Network CEN reception in the Hyatt Regency Fortissimo to meet leading figures in the low carbon economy.

21:30 Brexit: Opportunities for Animal Welfare & The Environment Reception

Finishing on a high, follow CEN in joining the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Zac Goldsmith and George Eustice for their joint reception in the Hyatt Regency Concerto

Tuesday

8:00 A Menu for a Sustainable and Healthy Future, hosted by the Vegan Society.

Start your day off early again in the ICC Executive Room 8, to delve into how the UK can produce food that can improve the nation’s health, be environmentally sustainable and remain affordable.

12:00 Earth, wind and fire: can clean energy really grow the economy? Hosted by The Spectator and Centrica.

Regardless of the impressively titled pun and the fact that gin and tonics are served to guests, this event looks to be an interesting one, with clean energy and economic growth hugely topical. Head to the Crowne Plaza Vista Suite.

15:45 Protecting Oceans, Reducing Plastic: In Conversation with Michael Gove.

To finish your conference experience, we recommend going to this Demos event in ICC Hall 8a. With Michael Gove and Lewis Pugh (UN Patron of the Oceans) confirmed as speakers, this event won’t shy away from discussing the state of our oceans and the vital protection that is needed to deliver a sustainable future.

So, with two days to go, we hope that you’re excited as us. 2018 has been a packed year for the environment, from Brexit forecasts to new Bills and promises. We anticipate that Conference will be just the same. Time to get packing.