Green party manifesto launch, factchecked

Published: 1st Jun 2017

We factchecked five claims from the launch of the Green party manifesto.

Green Party Manifesto: Reasons behind the Brexit vote

“[Theresa May] has no mandate for the type of Brexit she is pursuing—out of the single market, out of the customs union, leaving key social and environmental protections behind, leaving free movement. That was not on the ballot paper.”

  • The only question on the ballot paper last June was “Leave” or “Remain” - which left a lot to be decided by the government. It’s difficult to know exactly why people voted to leave, but we can get an idea of the issues that generally concerned Leave voters.
  • The vast majority of voters who said immigration and sovereignty were most important to them in deciding how to vote in the referendum, voted for Leave according to social researchers NatCen.
  • NatCen also found that voters who wanted to Leave the EU were also much more likely to say that immigration generally should be a priority for the government, outside of the context of the EU.
  • 72% of Leave voters agreed that being in the EU undermined British independence.
  • All this matters in terms of the single market, in particular, because membership involves free movement of people and accepting EU laws.
  • In terms of environmental protections, the proposed “Great Repeal Bill” will keep all EU environmental rules for now, but they can now be changed in future rather than legally guaranteed by EU membership.

Green Party Manifesto: Young people's views on Brexit

“We know that the majority of young people want to stay in the EU.”

  • There is no definitive answer on how many young people voted in the EU referendum, or even which way they voted—these don’t get recorded when people vote. But there have been surveys to try and come up with estimates.
  • Shortly after the EU referendum several polls were conducted which suggested that around 70% of 18-24 year olds who voted, wanted to remain in the EU.
  • Social researchers NatCen have put the figure at 60% for those aged 18-34.
  • Out of all 18-34 year-olds, NatCen’s figures suggest 42% voted to remain, 28% voted to leave, and 30% didn’t vote either way.
  • Meanwhile, older age groups were more likely to vote leave: an estimated 60% of over 65s wanted this, say NatCen.
  • Since the referendum pollsters YouGov have asked on a number of occasions whether people think leaving the EU was the right thing to do in hindsight. Around 60% of 18-24 year olds tend to say they think it was the wrong thing to vote for.

Green Party Manifesto: Air pollution

“Air pollution is a public health emergency. It is linked to the premature deaths of 40,000 people in this country.”

  • A much-quoted report from the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in February 2016 put the number of premature deaths in the UK linked to air pollution at 40,000.
  • The science behind the report is complex, and the findings have been challenged. In particular, it doesn’t mean that air pollution literally causes 40,000 deaths a year.
  • As the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has said previously: "it should not be interpreted as the number of individuals whose length of life has been shortened by air pollution, as this would only be true if air pollution were the sole cause of deaths. Rather, it is an estimate of the total mortality effect in the local population".
  • What this means is that air pollution makes a small contribution to those deaths. It’s  linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, asthma, strokes and heart disease.
  • Greenpeace quotes one expert as saying that the data going into the study has been “overinterpreted” and that “the basic data does not say that 40,000 people have died ... There is loss of life from air pollution but the discussion of deaths isn’t helpful”.  

We also checked the same claim in the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Green Party Manifesto: Social care

“There’s only a crisis in social care because of under-investment. Yes the ageing population is coming…”

  • Councils were projected to spend £16.5 billion on adult social care in England in 2016/17—that’s a fall of 8% since 2009/10.
  • Experts generally agree that councils need more money to pay for adult social care and keep up with the ageing population, but the exact figure they put on this varies.
  • This ‘spending gap’ is estimated to be around £600 million in 2017/18 and £2.1 billion by 2019/20, according to experts at the Health Foundation think tank, along with the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund.
  • Other estimates made by charities and local government organisations put the size of the gap between £1.3 billion and £1.6 billion this year. By 2019/20 the estimates suggest it could be £1.1 billion to £2.6 billion. But these other estimates were made before the government committed around £2 billion to adult social care in England earlier this year.
  • Between 2017 and 2027  the number of over 75s in England is expected to increase by just over 1.7 million, based on population projections.

Green party Manifesto: Renewable energy

“There is so much momentum behind the green economy, behind green energy, behind renewables and green technologies. It is already telling its own economic story, which is that it is cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives.”

  • Renewable energy technology, especially solar and wind, has made ‘exponential gains in efficiency’ in recent years, according to the Swiss non-profit organisation World Economic Forum. Its 2016 handbook puts the current worldwide average ‘levelised cost’ of electricity from solar at around the same as coal—and falling—and for onshore wind power it’s already half that of coal.
  • UK government estimates suggest solar and onshore wind projects are among the cheapest sources in the UK at the moment, according to their levelised cost, although still more expensive than new types of gas power station.
  • This is expected to change in the next decade, with gas costs rising and renewables falling. By 2025, solar and onshore wind are estimated to have significantly lower levelised costs in the UK than other forms of electricity generation.
  • We don’t know at the moment what effect ‘fracking’ will have on the price of gas.
  • Levelised costs are the average cost to the owner of a plant of generating electricity over its lifetime, including the cost of building, operating and decommissioning it. But this doesn’t take into account market conditions, possible changes to government policy, or wider costs such as air quality impacts or storage of energy.
  • A government-commissioned report suggests that levelised cost isn’t the best way of comparing different sources of electricity, as technologies with identical levelised cost may have very different effects on the power system. It proposes a new method of calculating ‘whole system impacts’ for decisions on future energy policy, but doesn’t estimate future costs of different sources of electricity.

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