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UK election preview: climate issues top debate

UK election preview: climate issues top debate

Election Debate

The next government is being urged to offer more support to flood victims as part of a broader strategy to tackle climate change. The United Nations describes climate change as the single biggest health threat facing humanity. Despite its significance, some voters believe the issue is not being sufficiently addressed during the current general election campaign.

Olivia Egan, a business owner in Catcliffe, shared her experience of a devastating flood that hit her theatre school, Jack’s Theatre School. Storm Babet brought about a month’s worth of rainfall in just 36 hours last October, leaving 250 homes and businesses submerged. Eight months later, moisture continues to seep from the walls of the theatre school, even with the use of dehumidifiers.

“The truth is people will not want to be on a flood plain if those measures are not in place and suddenly all these houses will be empty,” Egan stated. She urges the next government to make insurance more accessible and affordable for flood victims and to support the adoption of flood-resilient materials. Miriam Graham, a structural engineer specializing in sustainability, emphasized the need for the government to make carbon assessments mandatory in the UK construction industry and to incentivize the use of low-carbon alternatives.

We should look at what we already have, as the most sustainable solution is to not build anything at all,” Graham suggested. Retaining and reusing materials from existing buildings can significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Climate change and the UK election

Dr. Tom Payne, a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, highlighted that extreme weather events are not limited to flooding. Wildfires, for instance, ravaged South Yorkshire in July 2022, with temperatures exceeding 39 degrees Celsius.

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He noted that while immediate concerns like the NHS and the economy dominate political discussions, these issues are interconnected with the climate emergency and will worsen if climate change is not addressed. Political parties have varied approaches to climate change. The Conservatives aim to reach net zero by 2050 by increasing offshore wind power and approving new small nuclear power stations.

Labour proposes to spend £1.7 billion annually on a Great British Energy company to generate jobs and promote clean energy. The Liberal Democrats target net zero by 2045, with a focus on expanding solar and wind power. The Green Party sets their net zero goal at 2040, intending to phase out nuclear power.

Meanwhile, Reform UK plans to abandon all net zero targets. The urgency of addressing climate change is clear, and voters and experts alike are calling on the next government to prioritize this critical issue.

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