At the #climatehustings on 8 April we asked for views on various aspects of climate change. As this hustings is about pushing climate change up the national agenda we have chosen to focus on those candidates who are polling strongly, where the candidates and their parties with the potential to influence the climate change debate both nationally but as importantly here in Camden. At the time of writing, there are three other registered candidates in Holborn & St Pancras.
Many thanks to Jocelyn Timperley from the Greener Good for allowing us to use her summary.
- Natalie Bennett from the Green Party appears fairly strongly pro most proposed measures to tackle climate change. Her focus is on renewables and their expansion in the UK as soon as possible. She is completely opposed to both nuclear power and fracking in the UK as well as HS2. She wants more working from home and the economy to be balanced more regionally. She wants to tax multinationals and the richest people. She supports an EU referendum – because the Greens support democracy – but is against TTIP, the secretive EU-US trade deal. She supports presumed liability.
- Will Blair from the Conservative Party has focussed on using business to drive solutions to combatting climate change. He thinks we need a diverse mix of energy, including nuclear and shale. He also doesn’t support HS2, unlike his party. He said he’s proud of the Conservative’s tax policy and is against an air passenger duty and fuel duty which he says will hit the poor. He says the Conservatives have opposed a decarbonisation commitment as it would have driven energy prices up, but that their new manifesto will likely have a 2050 target.
- Keir Starmer from the Labour Party says both his and Labour track record on the environment is good. We shouldn’t be wasting time thinking about a referendum to leave the EU and should instead be focussing on building a strong green economy. He supports clear-cut legal national and international emissions targets and has stressed the importance of the Paris COP21 climate summit. Also not too keen in HS2. He wants to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion but doesn’t support fossil fuel taxes which he’s worried hit the poor. He’s added that the Labour party is committed to decarbonisation of electricity by 2030.
- Jill Fraser from the Liberal Democrats prioritises education about responding to climate change for young people. She wants to encourage people to get out of cars and make the roads safer for cyclists. She’s pro-trains but against construction of the controversial high-speed rail HS2, which she thinks won’t achieve anything. She’s against fracking (though her party isn’t) and wants more of a focus on building energy efficient homes and onshore wind. She thinks a 2050 target for decarbonisation is achievable, but doesn’t want an increase in fuel taxation as she thinks this will hit the poor.
The 150 strong audience starting to gather
Beyond the important cross party agreement on climate change earlier in the year, there has been a remarkable silence on what the declaration states is “one of the most serious threats facing the world today”. Not only is this a lost opportunity to build public support for the critical changes needed, but it also hides from the view the very real differences between parties and indeed between local candidates and national party policy.
That’s why we invited Natalie Bennett, Greens, Will Blair, Conservatives, Jill Fraser, Liberal Democrats and Keir Starmer, Labour, all prospective MPs for Holborn & St Pancras, to take part in a debate on all aspects of climate change whether that be energy policy, tax, transport and international policy.
Being Holborn & St Pancras all candidates were in agreement about scrapping HS2 and the importance of tackling air pollution. But on broader issues such as fracking, nuclear power and tax there are significant differences. You can read a short summary of the candidates’ policies with a minute by minute analysis on greener good’s blog or by searching #climatehustings on twitter.
Sadly there is only a limited amount of time at a single hustings and we didn’t get chance to address all the questions people had. This is where you can help. Seek out opportunities to quiz both Holborn & St Pancras candidates and those in other constituencies on aspects of the debate that are important to you. Share the answers (you can email me, add them to the website or tweet) and put climate change back in the 2015 general election debate.
Many thanks to Camden School for Girls for hosting (and especially Martins Camisuli architects for sponsoring) and to Stephen Tindale for chairing.
This election is undoubtably going to be an exciting one with a less than predictable outcome and with a leader of one of the main political parties standing in a Camden constituency we thought it was a unique opportunity to host an hustings focusing on climate change.
Join us from 6.30pm on Wednesday, 8 April at Camden School for Girls and hear what our candidates have to say about climate change and ensure whoever is elected hears your views on the issue. There will be opportunities to ask questions both in advance and on the evening itself.
We have confirmations from Natalie Bennet, Green Party, Will Blair, Conservative, Jill Fraser, Liberal Democrat and Sir Keir Starmer, Labour and the evening will be chaired by Stephen Tindale from Climate Answers.
You’ll need to register and registration also allows you to ask your question in advance. We won’t be able to accomodate every question but we will try to fit in as many as we can!
Many thanks to the groups supporting us in this event including Camden Friends of the Earth, Camden Cycling Campaign, 1010, the London chapter of Global Justice Now and Streetbank and a special thanks to Martins Camisuli architects for sponsoring the event.
Camden has teamed up with five north London boroughs to offer grants of up to £6,000 towards the cost of energy efficiency measures. The project also offers a subsidised Green Deal Assessment and expert advice to support you through the process, from identifying measures through to installation.
In addition, for those who live in a conservation area, Camden has recently published new energy efficiency planning guidance for conservation areas to inform residents who are considering making energy efficiency improvements to their properties.
Smart Homes grants are available to home owners, landlords and private tenants on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited time only. For more information visit the website www.smarthomes.house or call the Smart Homes advice line on 020 7527 4736 (Monday to Friday, 9am-7pm)
In response to our government’s blinkered race for fracking, while snubbing the latest public opinion polls (74% against fracking under people’s homes without their permission, and 80% in favour of renewable energy), Camden Friends of the Earth wanted to visually capture how people FEEL about fracking – since their thoughts don’t seem to count.
And who can dispute one’s feelings?
So they’ve started asking the public to share with us their deepest fracking feelings and so far the response has been staggering. We came across many people who feel so strongly against fracking that they were well prepared to openly express their feelings in front of a camera no matter how ugly they appeared; intimidated, fearful, angry, shocked, disgusted, horrified, sad, shattered, furious, horrified, appalled, distressed…
And its not just the widespread public opposition to fracking that our government chooses to ignore, they have also disregarded the most reliable scientific expertise on earth when it comes to dealing with global warming (IPCC) who have highly recommended leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
64% of England is under consideration for controversial fracking by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This includes most of London and the entire borough of Camden. It may not seem likely to happen in Camden, but unless we get a firm commitment from our council to block any licences for drilling in the borough, we cannot be certain that it won’t happen in our own backyard.
Even the unthinkable scenario of fracking in Hampstead Heath might become a reality after our government recently announced that planning permission may still be granted in National Parks and areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty under “exceptional circumstances”.
For those who are unfamiliar with fracking, it is a risky technique used to extract shale gas by pumping water and toxic chemicals at high pressure into the ground, cracking open and fracturing the rock deep underground in order to release natural gas.
Fracking just a single shale gas well takes approximately 15 million litres of water, while the deceivingly small proportion of chemicals used in the mix – 0.5% – actually make up a staggering amount of 75,000 litres of chemicals per well.
The UK Government has given the green light despite the fact that it contributes towards climate change, and mounting evidence from the USA and Australia that it can cause water contamination; there is plenty of footage caught on film of people setting fire to the dirty water that comes out of their taps due to the high concentration of gas that has leaked into the groundwater supply from nearby fracking sites.
The risk is especially high in the South East of England since almost 90% of our water supply comes from groundwater.
Even if the wild assumption that fracking will reduce energy bills in the future is correct, this must not come at the expense of risking contaminating our water supply, and compromising on the health of people and wildlife; particularly in our densely-populated area, with an increased risk of air pollution (which is already bad enough). Surely the answer to our energy problem lies in clean, low-impact, low-carbon and indefinitely renewable solutions such as wind and solar.
So we’re not terribly surprised to see how people react emotionally to the invasive idea of fracking, yet it’s quite spectacular to see just how wide the spectrum of emotions are out there.
If this resonates with you and you’re happy to sacrifice your good looks for the common good, please take one of the following actions:
Share with us your own #FrackingSelfie
On Twitter >> @CamdenFoE
On Facebook >> https://www.facebook.com/theuglysideoffracking
Sign our online petition to call on Camden council to publicly oppose the controversial practice of fracking in our borough: http://chn.ge/1q4YdoI
For further info about fracking –
Are you a passionate Gardener, keen to promote your blooming results across Camden? Apply now to Camden in Bloom!
This year’s Camden in Bloom competition is now open for applicants from businesses and residents who are doing their bit to make Camden gorgeously green. The theme of this year’s competition is “greener together” so if you have a blooming balcony or a cool community project which is making Camden more bountiful and beautiful, why not apply? There are plenty of categories budding gardeners can get involved in.
However, it’s not all about being green fingered! Camden also want to hear from creative and innovative environmental projects across the borough. Groups who are working on saving water, improving energy efficiency and educating local people about sustainability…
The competition is open now and will close on Friday 1 August. For more information about the competition visit: www.projectdirt.com/camdeninbloom Scroll down a little for the application form! Alternatively, your local library will have printed Camden in Bloom forms available for you.