Questions to ask General Election Candidates

Hustings will take place all over the country. Please go along and ask one or more of these questions.

Question on the CLIMATE EMERGENCY

We are in a climate and ecological emergency. According to the head of the UN, we face a direct existential threat and have less than 18 months to change course.

What is your plan to:

1. Tell the truth to the citizens of this country who will not be prepared to accept the policies you must put in place unless they understand why they are needed?

2. Halt biodiversity loss and cut GHG emissions to net zero by 2025?

3. Do this is a way that is democratic and fair?

Background:

Setting a net zero date post 2025 would cross a “moral threshold” and hold future generations to ransom. Former Chief Scientist Sir David King said recently,

“The right date [for net zero emissions] is probably in the past. I think it’s not necessary to argue whether or not [zero emissions by 2030] is realistic, we need to look at what is necessary, and if we look at what is necessary we need to be doing that well.”

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Three questions on the ENVIRONMENT BILL currently in progress through Parliament

Introduction

The Environment Bill covers many areas in which radical change is needed if we are to deal with the climate crisis and hand on to our children an environment that is fit to live in. It is important to enshrine the environmental protections that we currently enjoy as part of the EU in a British legislative framework that will safeguard that protection when we leave.

As the Bill stands, however, it does not afford the environment the protection that it will need if and when we leave the EU, let alone provide a course towards sustainability and net zero emissions, which are critical if we are to survive.

There are huge omissions to be filled and huge inconsistencies to be ironed out.

There is a danger of regression from EU standards and a lack of adequate accountability.

There is a need for objective information, which is so important if people are going to make these provisions stick.

More powers and resources are needed for councils.

Question One

The Environment Bill covers many areas in which radical change is needed if we are to deal with the climate crisis and hand on to our children an environment that is fit to live in.

How can the Office for Environmental Protection hold the Government or other public bodies to account when the OEP has been appointed by the very Secretary of State that it is meant to be holding to account?

Background

The basic premise underlying the Bill—that we can and must replace the external arbiter of the EU with our own Office for Environmental Protection—depends on the OEP having the independence and the powers to hold the Government of this country to account, to prevent our law and our institutions from undermining our environment, to rule out actions that the Government might want to take and to impose fines for breaches. How can that be done by an OEP that has been appointed by the very Secretary of State that it is meant to be holding to account, without any meaningful involvement from anyone else?

Question Two

Can the OEP protect our agriculture and industry in future trade deals?

Background

Before EU regulations started to change the practice in this country, we were the dirty man of Europe. We now have protections that may sometimes go further than other European countries. It is a matter of regret that we will no longer be able to lead on EU environmental protection once we are no longer a member. How much of that protection will survive in the face of demands from US agriculture or multinational chemicals giants while we try in desperation to agree one-sided trade deals with much larger economic blocs?

Question Three

We are in an emergency situation on clean air, waste and water.

When will action begin?

And where will the funding come from?

Background

Far too much in the Bill envisages decisions that will not take effect for years. Without proper investment in the public sector, we will not achieve the step change that we need in tree planting, protection of our wildlife habitats, waste and resource efficiency, reducing the impact of water consumption or protection from chemical pollution.

Clean Air:

How can we secure clean air for our children when many of the proposed measures will take 15 years to have any effect? There is no indication in the Bill of the powers or resources that will be needed to take fossil fuel vehicles off our roads, but some 35,000 to 40,000 of our citizens die prematurely every year. This is an emergency, and rapid and radical action needs to be taken now.

Waste:

There is no mechanism to end the export of plastic waste to countries that do not have the facilities to deal with it. No commitment to resource our local authorities to enable the recyclable materials collections envisaged in the Bill. No Government commitment to invest in recycling and composting infrastructure in this country. No commitment to reducing waste in the first place. All the initiatives proposed in the Bill appear to depend on the private sector providing the finance, the investment, the facilities and even the administrators and scheme enforcement. Have the Government learned nothing from the fiasco of packaging recovery notes, which have done nothing to reduce waste or boost recycling?

Water:

There are no firm commitments in the Bill to reduce water consumption or the carbon use of the water industry

There are no firm commitments in the Bill to reduce water consumption or the carbon use of the water industry


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