Climate change: MP hopefuls say how they will tackle crisis 'without making Gloucester people worse off'

Gloucester’s parliamentary candidates have set out where they stand on the question of climate change and how they would tackle it in a way that does not make people poorer. Six of the eight people hoping to become the city’s MP took part in a hustings organised by Gloucester Cathedral last night (June 24).

One of the questions they were ask is how they would tackle the climate crisis in a sustainable economic manner. Steve Gower, of the Workers Party of Britain, was the first to answer and said he would look to convert the city’s 3,500 empty properties and bring their energy rating up.

“I would get in those properties,” he said. “My priority would be for the homeless and the vulnerable in the city.

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“If they weren’t at an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A, I would refurbish them. Or knock them down and start again.

“The biggest carbon emitter in this country is the housing stock and the fact of how much electricity it costs you to maintain that house.

“The next juncture would be Gloucester City Homes and then private properties. The technology is here already but the political will isn’t “

Conservative Richard Graham said it was a crucial question in how to balance the immediate needs of people to be able to afford to live their lives while doing the right thing. He said the country has increased the share of its use of renewable energy from 6 per cent to 42 per cent over the last 14 years.

“The big gains will be on nuclear where we have committed to two new ones. And of course much more offshore wind and onshore wind developments.

“There’s a lot more we can do to meet the first ever net zero target of 2035.” He also said there is a new environmental protection group which now holds the government to account on such matters.

All of this must be done, he said, without hitting the less affluent people in society. “That's why we are not rushing to ban petrol and diesel cars,” he said.

Workers Party of Britain candidate Steve Gower said the antisocial behaviour in the city is a symptom of the cost of living crisis and lack of affordable housing
Workers Party of Britain candidate Steve Gower speaking at Gloucester Cathedral -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Labour Party candidate Alex McIntyre said the climate crisis is before the country and the opportunity is there to tackle it. He said £8.6bn would be raised from tax on oil and gas companies’ profits. And GB Energy will be set up to “turbo charge” the economy and produce net zero energy by 2030.

“650,000 jobs will be created by our plan,” he said. “Well paid, high skilled jobs, apprenticeships here in Gloucester.

“Those well paid jobs will allow our future generations to buy their own homes. But it also brings down energy bills.”

He said that most importantly it gives the UK energy security. “We have a choice, do we see it as a challenge or an opportunity for more jobs, lower energy bills and energy security in the future.”

Green Party Adam Shearing said his party would rectify the harm done to the environment. The Greens aim to power the economy with renewable energy and institute a carbon tax.

“We will raise tax year on year until the problem is solved. We will also institute a wealth tax.

Conservative Richard Graham said an MP has to set an example by being hard working, diligent, compassionate and working for all whatever their political beliefs. "That’s what I’ve always tried to do and will go on doing if re-elected," he added.

“This is how we will fund our radical projects.” He said the money raised would be invested in research and development to both tackle climate change and create high skilled jobs.

Liberal Democrat Rebecca Trimnell said her party is committed to cutting greenhouse emissions by 2045 at the latest. But she said it is about making homes warmer and cheaper to heat. Providing free insulation and air source heat pumps and ensuring new homes are carbon neutral is also needed, she said.

“We have to do more, we have to give people incentives to put solar panels on their existing properties.

“We need to make it a lot easier for people. The other thing Liberal Democrats want to do is tax frequent fliers.

“Those that rely on flying, forever going and not recognising their carbon footprint because of it.” She also said the rivers and lakes should not be in the state they are."

Labour’s Alex McIntyre said it was an absolute privilege to be at the cathedral. He said Gloucester is a bellwether seat and  the future of the country and who is going to govern it depends on how people vote on July 4,
Labour Party candidate Alex McIntyre said the climate crisis is before the country and the opportunity is there to tackle it. -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

The Lib Dems would also abolish Ofwat and introduce a regulatory body which stops the dumping of sewage in watercourses, she added.

Reform UK’s Chris Farmer said all the parties are suggesting raising taxes and cutting carbon emissions. He claimed it is impossible to run a society without hydrocarbons and nuclear energy.

“You can’t stop change,” he said. "Human beings have never been able to stop the environment from changing. We adapt to change.

“This whole thing is based on money, it’s got nothing to do with the environment.” He spoke of scare stories he heard in the 1970s about the world running out of oil and claimed it was a lie intended to raise the cost of oil."