The importance of the climate (and ecological!) emergency leaders’ debate

Energy & Climate Change, Natural Environment

The importance of the climate (and ecological!) emergency leaders’ debate

A person standing alone in a forest

This year has seen a shift in focus. 2019 has been the year when environmental issues rocketed up the priority lists of citizens, organisations and politicians across the UK and more widely. We’ve seen climate strikes, a mass lobby, parliament declaring a climate emergency and the publication, then fall, of the first UK-wide Environment Bill, following Wales’ 2015 lead.

All this, and more, is absolutely essential to address the climate and ecological crisis we face which has so clearly and unequivocally been laid out in a growing number of scientific papers and reports. This year, major findings included:

And of course messages from the 2018 IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5oC still loom large in many people’s minds. Especially the importance of limiting warming to 1.5oC, because if we reach even 2oC we’ll likely see greater increases in temperatures across most land and ocean regions, hot extremes, heavy precipitation and probable drought.

With so much quality evidence available, it’s clear that we’re in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency. Voters across the UK recognise this too, pushing the environment up the electorate’s priority list overtaking education, housing and the economy.

And yet, during the recent ITV leaders’ debate, the thorny issue of Brexit continued to dominate what could and should have been a rounded tour of the two main parties’ policies.

Disappointingly, imperative issues around addressing current environmental pressures were afforded just one measly climate question... and in the quick-fire round at that. This allowed only woefully insufficient response to the one of the nation’s top concerns.

However, following public pressure, Chanel 4 has agreed to host a climate debate to make our would-be leaders explain where they stand the current crisis. Within this CIWEM are keen that the ecological emergency is not forgotten, or treated as climate’s poor cousin, the two are intrinsically linked and need a holistic response.

Whilst the debate’s promised ahead of election day (12th December) the date is yet to be set as Channel 4 remains flexible to accommodate all party leaders. Many have responded but there a still a couple of notable non-responders that voters deserve to hear from.

This election should be about the whole range of issues important to voters and we look forward to our environment receiving more of the airtime it deserves.

Sarah Anderton


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