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Metro Mayor candidates questioned on their proposed response to the climate and ecological emergencies

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On Monday 19 April we held a hustings event to hear from all the West of England Mayoral candidates about how they are going to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies in a fast and fair way.

Now or never moment

All three of the local authorities in the West of England have declared climate emergencies, as has the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), and all have set targets for their areas to be zero carbon by 2030. We also face an ecological emergency, as acknowledged by Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council – and immediate action to reverse ecological decline is needed.

The West of England Metro Mayor has a great deal of influence over how the region will respond to these emergencies over the next decade and meet ambitious targets, with specific powers on housing, transport, adult education and skills.West of England from the air

With ambitious targets, we wanted to find out if the Metro Mayor candidates have the vision and commitment to ensure the West of England leads the way at this crucial now or never moment.

The candidates are Jerome Thomas for the Green Party, Samuel Williams for the Conservative Party, Steven Williams for the Liberal Democrats and Dan Norris for the Labour Party. Unfortunately, Dan Norris was unable to attend.

A fast and fair transition

The candidates were asked about the first two actions they would take to ensure that the regions response to the climate and ecological emergencies is both fast and fair.

Jerome Thomas, Green Party candidate talked about his vision for a sustainable low carbon future that works for everybody. His first action would be to oppose Bristol Airport expansion which would “result in huge growth in the region’s carbon emissions.” His second would be to launch a West of England citizens assembly to concentrate on climate change and the economic recovery. “A citizen’s assembly would represent the full diversity of ages and backgrounds in the region and would give us a solid basis for consensus for the way forward. And I say this based on what’s happened in Bristol…we have learnt…that citizens will choose radical action when appropriate.”

Samuel Williams, Conservative Party candidate declared a commitment to delivering a greener and more sustainable future through innovation and collaborative leadership. His first action would be to implement “a sustainable development goal lens to…decision making that happens across the organisation from strategy to planning to transport to infrastructure and more.” His second action would be to launch a “building a brighter world award because we need to innovate our way out of this.”

Steven Williams, Liberal Democrats candidate introduced his manifesto for a making sure “the west of England is far greener and far more socially just by 2030.” His first action would be to stop West of England authority officers from working on a new road currently being proposed in south Bristol as well as stopping the A4 relief road through Brislington which “would be far better served as a cycling and walking walkway and ecological corridor as well”. His second action would be to get bus franchising in place.WECA mayor poll

The audience were asked their opinion on whether the actions set out by candidates are enough to match the ambition of the region and scale of the challenge faced. The poll results showed most of the live audience thought more ambition is needed from some of the candidates.

 

Ways to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies

We also asked questions on transport, food, nature and skills:

  • How candidates would reduce road-based transport emissions by 18% year on year in order to meet the carbon neutral target of 2030. (find at 18:07)
  • Whether candidates are in favour or not of the expansion of Bristol Airport. (34:39)
  • What candidates would do to enable the radical change needed to our food system to ensure it is resilient to the impacts of climate change, reduces carbon emissions and supports natures recovery. (41:06)
  • How they would support and rebuild nature. (48:14)
  • How candidates would ensure young people get the skills and support they need to be part of the zero-carbon transition workforce. (1:00:49)
  • How the candidates would implement the measures they outlined in a way that meets the need for urgency, but does so in a way that is fair and protects those communities whose voices are least heard but most impacted. (1:11:26)

Questions were submitted in advance by a diverse range of organisations and people but the webinar chat was lively, with loads more great questions submitted on the night by the live audience. The most popular audience questions were put to candidates including how they would hold developers to account to ensure proper protection of wild and green spaces, and whether they support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

Plus, watch to the end to find out if money was no object what would be the most radical environmental policy Metro Mayoral candidates would like to introduce.

Thank you to all the West of England Metro mayoral candidates and ourhost Liz Zeidler, Founder and Director of Centre for Thriving Places.

This politically neutral event was organised by Bristol Green Capital Partnership, in collaboration with Avon Wildlife Trust, Black & Green Ambassadors and Ujima Radio, Bristol Food Network, CPRE Bristol and Avon, Friends of the Earth, Sustrans and Extinction Rebellion.

To find out more about the Metro Mayoral candidates

And for the Bristol Mayor

  • Join us for the Bristol Mayoral hustings event on Tuesday 27 April 6-7.30pm.
  • Tune in to the Black & Green Ambassadors Radio Show on Thursday 29 April 10am-12pm. On this month’s show, the Ambassadors are speaking to all 8 Bristol mayoral candidates to get to know them, what they have in common and what sets them apart in their plans to make life in Bristol better whilst addressing the twin emergencies.

And of course, don’t forget to cast your vote on 6 May!

Giant ballot box

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