No sign of blue at the green debate

There was no sign of blue at the green debate on Thursday, April 22nd.

The Tories couldn’t field a representative to sit on the panel alongside the other two main-party PPCs, Labour’s Gillian Merron and Liberal Democrat’s Reg Shore.

Karl McCartney, the Tory PPC for Lincoln, tweeted at the eleventh hour: “Unfortunately Roger Helmer MEP my replacement for tonight’s environment debate has let me know he now is unavailable to attend…”

Labour's Gillian Merron and Lib Dem's Reg Shore went head to head at a green debate. Photo: ULPO

Transition’s Lincoln branch organised the debate. Transition is a group that promotes sustainable living in local communities. It was held at the University of Lincoln’s Cargill lecture theatre, drawing a fairly large attendance – filling three quarters of the room.

The absence of Roger Helmer, a Tory member of the European Parliament who is sceptical of mankind’s influence on climate change, narrowed the paramaters for debate, given the relative consensus between Labour and Lib Dems.

A film by Transition on local sustainability, climate change, and the work they do was shown to the audience before the debate at 8pm.

Chaired by professor Richard Keeble of the Lincoln School of Journalism, the event started with opening statments from Merron and Shore.

Merron claimed that Britain is “a world leader on climate change” referring to Labour’s commitments under the climate change act to cut carbon emissions by a third by 2020, then by a further 80% by 2050.

She said: “We’re moving from a high carbon economy, to a low carbon economy – creating jobs, supporting our environment, supporting the economy, but also, I would say, securing…our food and energy supplies for this country for the future.”

On the Copenhagen summit, Merron praised Gordon Brown for bringing China and the US together in an agreement, though she described the outcome as “not exactly what we wanted”.

Reg Shore opened by boldly stating: “The Lib Dem position on green issues is second to none. I’m very proud to stand here and say that we are absolutely perfect on that level.”

He referred to the Lib Dem’s ‘warm home’ policy, which aims to have every British home insulated by 2020.

“We want to decrease emissions by 40% by 2020, and we want a carbon neutral country – that’s a 100% target – by 2050. Now, that clearly sounds a massive aim for everyone to actually pick up. But I believe that we’ve got the genius in this country to succeed,” Shore said, outlining more Lib Dem policy.

Questions from the audience had been written on slips of paper before the debate started, so Prof Keeble put some of these to the candidates. On top of this, the audience were allowed to interject with comments and follow-up questions.

The candidates touched on national and international issues, like nuclear power – which both oppose – and global poverty, as well as local issues, like improving cycle paths and the proposed return of horse-racing to the west common – which again, both PPCs opposed.

Listen to the full debate

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