THE UK declared a climate emergency this year. Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN speaks to candidates about their views on the environment.

AS the latest round of international talks get under way, parties are facing pressure to say how they would combat climate change.

The UN has said that emissions would have to fall by 7.6 per cent per year up to 2030 to stay on track to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond that, there would be severe impacts of rising seas, extreme weather and threats to water and food security, it said.

In June, the government set a new target for carbon emissions to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – but some have said that this is not enough.

General Election 2019: Where do your candidates in Bolton stand on Brexit?

General Election 2019: Where do candidates in Bolton stand on public spending?

This followed months of protest from groups like Extinction Rebellion and school strikes inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

The UK declared an environment and climate emergency in May and Bolton Council followed suit in August. The move demonstrates political will in parliament on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act.

Conservatives

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THE Conservatives promise to prioritise the environment in the next budget if they return to power.

They would do that by investing in the infrastructure, science and research that will deliver economic growth for decades to come, according to the manifesto.

This includes supporting the creation of environmentally-friendly homes with low energy bills.

Bolton North East candidate said that the Tories would invest in research and development. He described the Conservative government’s carbon emission target of as “prudent” and defended its record on the environment.

He said: “We want to safeguard the interest of future generations. Our next generation wants to leave the world in a better state. We have an ambitious target of 2050. But if you look at the Conservative government since 2010, we have been investing in renewable energy.”

Bolton West candidate Chris Green would also like to see continued support for the nuclear sector which provides “reliable energy” for business and industry as well creating jobs.

But he is cautious about government putting too much pressure on business.

He said: “It’s easy to force closure of a factory and reduce carbon emissions in the UK, knowing full well that factory will reopen in India or China to produce the same products that we want but actually they have lower environmental standards and therefore more carbon emissions are actually created. So it’s about trying to get the right balance.”

Bolton South East candidate Johno Lee believes planting trees is an effective way of reducing carbon emissions but wants to be “careful” about rushing into decisions.

He said: “I don’t want to see the government just rush into reaction because it is quite a hot topic at the moment and we’re actually making the right decisions.”

Labour

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THE Labour Party wants to deliver a green industrial revolution.

It believes that the next government should lead the world in fighting the climate and environmental emergency.

In doing so, the party would create one million jobs in the UK to transform industry, energy, transport, agriculture and buildings while restoring nature.

This involves creating over 110,000 new, well-paid green jobs in the North West.

There would also be a “green transformation fund” worth more than £16bn, including Crossrail project for the North.

Bolton West candidate Julie Hilling explained how tackling climate change is intertwined within Labour’s manifesto pledges.

She said: “Climate change is the most urgent issue affecting the whole of the globe and we don’t have a second chance of getting this right. If we don’t get it right now, then I hate to think what would happen to our globe afterwards.”

“Every policy Labour is looking at has a climate change element to it. So when we’re looking at any of our investments its about where do we put that investment.”

However, she also said that Labour is being pragmatic about its carbon emission targets.

She said: “We’ve set the target of 2030 to be zero carbon but we’ve also said, ‘look, there are some parts of the economy and the environment that are going to take a little bit longer’. We intend certainly to have it all done by 2040. We think 2050 is just too long and by then irreparable damage will be caused.”

Bolton South East candidate Yasmin Qureshi stressed the importance of preserving the green belt by building houses in existing urban areas. And she believes that this is possible.

She said: “Even people like Jeremy Clarkson have actually accepted that there is a climate extinction issue. This is a man who is the biggest petrolhead going. We need the green spaces to provide the oxygen we all need to survive.”

Bolton North East candidate David Crausby believes that the government needs to take leadership on the issue of climate change.

But he said that the public must support the proposals that surround tackling climate change.

He said: “I think the most important thing as far as climate change is concerned is to have the people with you. I think increasingly the British people, in fact the people of the world, are recognising that the climate is our most important long-term priority.

“It’s about the public being aware of the effect that they personally have on the climate. So while [investment] is necessary, we do need to plant trees and find better ways to create energy, what we need most of all is the support of the people.”

Liberal Democrats

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THE Liberal Democrats want to tackle the climate emergency by generating 80 per cent of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

They would set a new legally-binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest.

Bolton West candidate Rebecca Forrest said that climate change comes into all aspects of policy but she focused on housing as one of her top spending priorities for the next government.

She said: “Climate change comes into everything. With housing, we’ve pledged that all houses in fuel poverty will be fully insulated by 2025. We’re actually helping people in housing who may struggle with their bills to make sure that they make their houses as fuel efficient as possible.

“That’s just one area in housing. When we’re building new houses we should be doing it to much more stringent criteria to make sure that they will be as near to carbon zero footprints as possible.”

The Lib Dem candidate also spoke about the importance of promoting more environmentally sustainable transport.

She added: “If you then take that on to things like transport, we need to make sure that electrical vehicle charging points are available. There are so few across Bolton West. I can’t even think of a single one.

“We need to be able to get those charging points in place to incentivise people to change to electric cars, we need to make sure that the public transport system becomes fully electrified.”

Bolton South East candidate Kev Walsh explained the rationale behind spending money to tackle climate change.

He said: “When we are spending, that’s going towards cutting emissions but also ensuring that as a country we see an increase to productivity.”

Bolton North East candidate Warren Fox said that we have to become more responsible citizens in caring for our planet.

He said: "I’ve seen first hand the devastating impact we are having on our planet when out volunteering with local litter picking groups. If we do not act and change our behaviour we will end up killing our planet. The Lib Dems are committed to investing and making radical policy changes in tackling this emergency. 

"If we invest in saving the planet, fighting the climate crisis and it was all for nothing, we end up with a cleaner planet, healthier environment and improve life for all animals and and our future generations and that surely cannot be a bad thing.”

Green Party

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THE Green Party is promising a Green New Deal to tackle the climate emergency and deliver social justice.

It wants to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 by providing new green homes, new green transport and new green jobs.

This involves funding improvements in energy, housing, transport, industry, food, farming and forestry.

The party has committed to spending £100bn a year to achieve this, mostly funded by public borrowing.

When asked whether the country can afford to borrow so much money, Bolton North East candidate Liz Spencer said: “Can the country not afford to? Can the country afford to carry on as we are doing? The answer is possibly not.”

Bolton South East candidate David Figgins had the same view, saying that climate change should be the next government’s top spending priority.

He said: “If we don’t tackle climate change, we won’t have a planet to live on. So it’s completely pointless putting anything else as the number one spending priority. We can’t afford to not live on a planet anymore or have a planet that is not sustainable to live on.”

His colleague in Bolton North East, Liz Spencer, explained why climate change must be the starting point for all government spending decisions.

She said: “Climate change has to be the determinant of the budget because if you do not have a budget that works primarily to restore the environment then the rest of it is totally immaterial.”

Bolton West candidate Paris Hayes said that UK must lead by example and set a precedent.

He believes that where Britain starts, other countries will follow.

For him, tackling climate change can solve other issues that need addressing.

One issue he has focused on in his campaign is transport.

He said: “We need to invest in new rail networks. We want to bring in a new rolling-stock company to build new electric trains. We want to make sure that everywhere in the UK has access to clean, affordable transport solutions. Also phasing out cars.”

Brexit Party

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THE Brexit Party has promised to invest in the environment, plant millions of trees and promote a global initiative at the UN.

It also wants the UK to recycle our own waste and make it illegal for waste to be exported elsewhere, to be burnt, buried or dumped at sea.

Bolton North East candidate Trevor Jones said he believes tackling climate change should be a priority for the next government

He is on board with the green agenda and supports the introduction of hydrogen cars and phasing out of diesel vehicles.

Despite the UK only contributing around 1 per cent of carbon emissions he said it is still important to lead by example.

He said: “We’ve got to set an example for other countries and we could do that by stopping buying things from China and India.”

However, the Bolton South East candidate, Mark Cunningham, is sceptical about the science behind climate change.

He said: “Climate change brings its challenges. But I think I should point out that climate change is just what it says – change.

“We’ve had climate change, it’s cyclical, it happens over thousands of years. The earth has been a lot hotter than it is now and a lot colder than it is now.

“Everybody that’s got anybody sense wants to see the plastic taken out of the oceans, stop producing waste that we can’t recycle properly and safely.

“I’m not as convinced on the greenhouse gases argument. Yes we have scientists backing it but if you look at who funds them it does lead to some suspicion.

“There are as strong arguments against as there are for, but the sensible thing is to be pragmatic about it and say, look, what can we do, where can we cut emissions, where can we recycle everything, and let’s do it.”

The Brexit Party candidate said he supports the current target for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050

But he does not believe that there are sufficient alternative sources of energy or financial resources to reach the “net zero carbon” target sooner.