Three of the four candidates standing in Hastings and Rye were probed on their plans to address the climate crisis as they faced the public in the election’s first hustings event.
Organised by the Hastings and St Leonards branch of Extinction Rebellion, Labour’s Peter Chowney, Liberal Democrat Nick Perry and Independent candidate Paul Crosland answered questions from voters at Central Hall, in Hastings town centre, on Friday evening. Conservative Sally-Ann Hart did not attend the event.
A 12-year-old St Leonards school girl asked candidates what their party would do to help stop the effects of climate change.
Mr Chowney said: “The party’s commitment is to make the UK carbon neutral within the 2030s. That’s slightly weaker than I would have liked. I would have liked us to keep to that commitment of 2030 and I would certainly work towards making Hastings and Rye become carbon neutral by 2030.
“I think that’s possible because Hastings and Rye has a relatively low carbon footprint anyway so we would need to become carbon neutral by 2030 if the country as a whole was to in the 2030s.”
Mr Crosland added: “I don’t represent a party here. I can’t say ‘vote for me’ and a massive party structure gets activated in some way. I can say that you help activate me to go out and have the conversations I have with people. We need to have difficult dialogues about why we do the things we do that causes a lot of harm.
“We need to get a new perspective about a grassroots environmentalism that is about having conversations, saying ‘how do we stick to a vision of what can be’ and ‘how will we support each other together’?”
Mr Perry said: “We have seven ways in which we will fight the climate crisis: we want to significantly reduce emissions by 2030; we will generate 80 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2030; we will retrofit 26 million homes by 2030; we will plant 60 million new trees per annum; we will continue our fight to build environmentally friendly new homes; we will establish a department against the climate crisis; and we pledge, as a result of our Remain bonus and raising money by borrowing and taxation, a further £100 billion over the next two parliaments.”