He is represented by a bowl of melting ice at the Extinction Rebellion event
A bowl of melting ice represented Stephen Hammond at a climate focussed hustings in Wimbledon.
The Conservative candidate was the only one of four candidates who did not attend the event organised by Extinction Rebellion Merton.
At the event at Wimbledon Congregational Church on December 4, residents had a chance to ask the tough climate questions of the candidates standing in Wimbledon.
First things first, the audience wanted to know what each candidate would do to address the climate crisis with the “urgency it deserves”.
Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Kohler said that there are four things his party will focus on first.
These are: Aiming for 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030, electrifying the railways by 2025, insulating homes and planting 60 million trees a year.
He added that local authorities will all be required to have a zero carbon strategy and there would be government grants for low-income families to insulate their homes.
Independent candidate, Graham Hadley, said he would want to see collaboration locally to get “plastic off our streets”. He would start with a scheme to collect plastic bottle tops in schools to be sent off for recycling, with incentives for the schools.
While Labour’s Jackie Schneider said that jobs would be increased in new ‘green’ industries.
She added: “For every dirty job we lose in the fossil fuel industry we can find green new jobs. There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
How about local traffic pollution? Congestion and air quality is a big concern in Merton, and particularly in Wimbledon.
Jackie said the key is “proper publicly owned transport systems that are joined up”.
She added that it is often cheaper for people to drive rather than take the train which is why the cost of trains needs to be cheaper.
While Paul said he wants to see the expansion of low emissions zones and improved cycle provision.
And Graham agreed with his two rivals adding that something needs to be done about parents driving “Chelsea tractors” a mile and half to drop their kids off to school.
What can be done by people everyday?
Jackie said that reducing the amount of meat we eat and reducing how much we fly will reduce carbon footprints.
She said: “I feel like there has to be some intergenerational fairness. My generation was able to do absolutely everything. I think we have to make tough decisions but it is important that we do it as politicians it can never be just private personal decisions.”
Graham said that it is going to be difficult and everyone will need to put themselves under “a lot of pressure” to make changes.
He added: “Our economy has been built on oil and gas and coal it is going to take a momentous shift in that.”
While Paul said that he wants to see a frequent flyer levy and in the short term thinks more people should make sure they get their electricity from a green provider.
And coming up to Christmas he said one of the key things individuals can do is to buy less.
Some have branded the 2019 general election the ‘Brexit election’ but for many the climate and environment is the key issue.
For residents attending the climate hustings it will most likely be the deciding factor.
And with The Green Party standing down as part of the Unite to Remain alliance with the Lib Dems it is not as obvious who their vote should go to.
All three candidates had some interesting ideas on what government could do to reduce carbon emissions and it remains to be seen whether this will actually be a ‘climate election’ in Wimbledon.
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
December 10, 2019