With the UK General Election just around the corner, I recently had the opportunity to attend a hustings event for the Wimbledon constituency chaired by Sustainable Merton CEO, Diana Sterck. It was a packed 1.5 hours with three candidates in attendance: Graham Hadley (independent), Paul Kohler (Liberal Democrat Party), and Jackie Schneider (Labour Party). A hustings is essentially an opportunity for candidates to address potential voters and, in this case, it was structured as a question period focused on climate. This was a sold out event and it was great to see so many Wimbledonites out expressing their passion for sustainability and addressing the climate emergency!
This event covered a wide range of topics, opening with the big picture question:
How would the candidates address the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves?
Candidates also discussed several more specific topics such as:
What legislative framework would you put in place to address the emissions that come from homes and buildings? (which account for half of our emissions)
What would you do to address local traffic pollution?
A few questions also focused on individual behaviour change:
What changes will people have to make in their own lives to address the climate crisis and what difficulties do they face?
What changes have the candidates made in their personal lives to reduce their climate footprint?
A large part of the discussion revolved around the strategies candidates would use to address these issues. Approaches that were raised included encouraging/enabling behaviour change, using technology, state driven approaches (e.g., government sanctions and subsidies), increased funding for energy saving measures (e.g., better insulation), and green investment.
At our last Community Champions Meet Up, I asked our Champions to describe their ideas for making an informed vote. A common theme that emerged from our discussion was that relying on mainstream media is not enough. Voters should carefully research the candidates’ websites, read their manifestos (if they belong to a party), and have a look at the candidates' voting history. Attending hustings or, if you are given the opportunity, engaging in discussions with party members who knock on your door, are also great ways to better inform your vote. By reading beyond the headlines we can be sure that we are voting for the candidate that best fits with our beliefs and values. Encouraging others to vote is also important (including youth).
Voting is everyone’s responsibility, so make sure you get out there on December 12th and have your say!
You can watch the Wimbledon hustings in its entirety here. There will also be a climate focused hustings for Mitcham and Morden Constituency on Dec. 9 with a video shortly to follow. Thank you to Merton Extinction Rebellon for organizing these events!
Blog by Rachael Edwards
Community Champions Project Manager