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General Election hustings held on environmental policy

18 June 2024

Environmental groups came together to hold the ‘Big Nature & Climate Debate’ on 17th June.

Held at Chester Zoo and filmed by The Wildlife Trusts, the debate saw spokespeople from England’s largest parties asked to set out how they would halt the decline in nature and get the country on track to achieving net zero.

The debate panel consisted of:
Chair: Sarah Mukheerjee MBE
Conservative Party representative: Rebecca Pow, Nature Minister
Green Party representative: Adrian Ramsay, Co-Leader
Labour Party representative: Toby Perkins, Shadow Nature Minister
Liberal Democrat Party representative: Lord Richard Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

Reform were also invited to attend the debate.

In response to questions from audience members the political speakers made a number of commitments, fleshing out and adding to proposals contained in party manifestos. Commitments included:

• Rebecca Pow pledging that the £1 billion extra proposed by the Conservatives for farming budget would cover funding for innovative technology designed to reduce chemical use.
• Adrian Ramsay pledging that Green MPs would give the achievement of the commitment to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030 the same attention and focus as the achievement of net zero.
• Toby Perkins pledging that one of the first actions of a Labour Government would be to ratify the Global Oceans Treaty, as well as reviewing the Environmental Improvement Plan to ensure Environment Act targets are met.
• Lord Newby pledging that Liberal Democrats would require all large companies to publish and implement plans to make their operations a net positive for nature.

Fuller Link analysis of the party manifestos can be found below:

Liberal Democrats

The debate between politicians was followed by an expert panel, where nature and climate CEOs and campaigners analysed the answers given by party representatives and highlighted what more was needed for nature and climate.

A full film of the debate and expert panel, produced by The Wildlife Trusts, can be found here.

Channel 4 coverage of the event, and the role of nature and climate policy in the 2024 General Election, can be found here.


The Big Nature & Climate Debate was organised by a coalition of environmental organisations, comprising: Chester Zoo, Wildlife Trusts, Wildlife & Countryside Link, The Climate Coalition, WWF-UK, RSPB, National Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Rewilding Britain, Woodland Trust, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, Hope for the Future, Surfers Against Sewage and Green Alliance.

The partners behind the debate are all supporters of the Restore Nature Now campaign, and the Nature 2030 campaign which preceded it, calling for more to be done to restore nature. The Restore Nature Now campaign, centered around a march in London on 22nd June, calls on political parties to make the following policy commitments in the General Election:

• More money for green farming.
• More land protected for nature.
• Rules to make polluters pay.
• Environmental rights for all.
• Halving UK carbon emissions by 2030.

Partners to the debate have also produced the following manifestos for the General Election.

The Wildlife Trusts
National Trust
Marine Conservation Society
Rewilding Britain
Surfers Against Sewage
Woodland Trust
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Hope for the Future ran a community vision board at the Big Nature and Climate Debate, to capture what the audience wanted politicians to deliver for climate and nature. The below artwork, by Rebekah Hinton, illustrates the messages left on the community vision board.

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