Corbyn and Berry best informed on issues as leaders battled to top each others’ commitments
With Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage refusing to take part, Channel 4’s climate debate was a pretty straightforward affair, with the leaders of the Greens, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National party and Liberal Democrats competing to outdo each other on climate promises, rather than attacking anyone’s record.
Climate Strike (Image: T. Larkum)
Berry: Only the Greens will put the climate and biodiversity crises at the very top of the government’s priorities, and other parties are only taking these issues seriously now because the Greens have won the argument.
Corbyn: Unlike the Tories, Labour has a climate plan and it will create huge numbers of jobs in a “green industrial revolution” encompassing offshore wind farms, housing upgrades, nationalised railways and energy, and a lot of new trees.
Price: The Plaid Cymru leader made a strong pitch that Wales has been neglected by Westminster governments handing out infrastructure investment, which is vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sturgeon: Scotland is already a leader in onshore and offshore wind, and could go much further in renewable energy generation, as well as tree-planting and nature conservation.
Swinson: The Liberal Democrats have traditionally been the strongest on green issues among the three main parties but have struggled to regain lost ground after taking part in the coalition, which failed to fulfil its promise to be “the greenest government ever”. Swinson’s commitments, for instance on achieving net zero only five years before the Tories, looked less impressive when compared with other parties.
Berry: The Greens have had the climate at the top of their agenda for years while the others are just catching up, Berry pointed out: “Do you trust them to get this done without more Greens in parliament?”
Corbyn: “This election is the last chance to tackle our climate emergency.” Corbyn did a good job of showing that he knows the issues, even if he didn’t have answers for all of them.
Price: “After Scotland, Wales has the best resources [for renewable energy]. Wales was the cradle of the industrial revolution – and can be of the next one.” The country famous for coal can generate renewable energy and green jobs.
Sturgeon: “COP26 will be in Glasgow – Scotland will be leading the way.” Next year, a international conference called COP26, where governments from every country will gather to determine the fate of the Paris climate agreement, will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. Sturgeon made it clear she will make the most of that international stage, and the Tories may regret their decision to award host status to the city.
Swinson: Pointed out that small contributions by individuals are not enough – we need systemic change, and only politicians can achieve that. “Making it easier and cheaper to make the right thing, so it becomes the obvious decision to make.”