Heading for the hustings? Check out these ready-to-ask climate questions.

We’ve taken advantage of the work that friends Hope for the Future, the Quakers in Britain and the Centre for Alternative Technology have done and, with a few tweaks, come up with some questions you can try out at election hustings.

The underlying idea of the questions is that they need a specific answer so it is difficult for the candidates to express just benevolent goodwill – which will often mean that candidates should be primed in advance. Some hustings will allow questions to be posted before the event so it’s worth taking advantage of that if you can. If you’re not sure what hustings are happening then head over to Voluntary Action Sheffield which is keeping a list.

We’d love you to submit more questions on our Facebook page but here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

  1. Is your Party’s climate policy evidence based?
  2. Does it accept the urgency of the evidence as defined by the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report?
  3. If implemented, what chance will your Party’s measures offer of avoiding the crucial 2°C average global temperature rise?
  4. Does your party’s policy take any account of the historic legacy of UK carbon emissions? (We have been burning fossil fuels for over 150 years to construct the schools, hospitals, railways and basic human infrastructure  we enjoy today, and in the process have become responsible for far more than our fair share of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.)
  5. Does your policy recognise that to reach a global agreement, the long-industrialised countries such as the UK must show leadership and sign up to a more rapid decarbonisation?
  6. Are you confident that your Party’s policy will help catalyse agreement at the December 2015 Paris UN negotiations?
  7. Does your party’s climate policy recognise that there are already more fossil fuels on the books of the big energy companies that we can safely burn, so adding more simply makes the problem worse?
  8. Does your party’s policy rise to the challenge of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions, as outlined in the IPCC’s 5th assessment report and set a clear timeline by which it will be achieved in the UK?
  9. Does your climate policy recognise the massive renewable resources available in and around the UK, and the potential for jobs and economic returns in harvesting them?
  10. What will your party do to make tackling climate change a priority and to prevent it pushing people into deeper poverty?
  11. Many people can’t afford to heat their homes over the winter. We can’t afford to ignore climate change either. How would you tackle fuel-poverty in a long-term, sustainable manner?
  12. Will your party work to ensure that the EU and the UK assist and help pay for developing countries to reduce their emissions, develop cleanly and adapt to climate change? How would you do this? For example in September 2014 Norway announced that it had signed a deal with Liberia to pay £150 million to Liberia to stop deforestation by 2020.
  13. Is your party prepared to commit to insulating the country’s housing stock (including solid wall housing) by 2025? This will reduce people’s fuel bills, keep people warmer, reduce emissions, use of the NHS and create jobs. What reason can there be for not doing this? (For more information see WWF report Warm Homes, not Warm Words.)
  14. Will your party commit to ensuring that all new housing is built to carbon neutral standards. (The coalition government has weakened this requirement significantly.)
  15. Serious questions have been raised about the environmental dangers from fracking. In addition to this, many people argue that to support fracking is incompatible with a serious commitment to limiting global warming [or “average global temperature rise] to two degrees. We already know that we can burn only 20% of known fossil fuel reserves globally if we are to stay with the upper limit compatible with a reasonable (about 75%) chance of keeping global warming below 2°C. What is the position of your party?
  16. Fracking is not a solution to climate change. Will you call for the immediate cessation of the exploration and extraction of natural gas and oil from the UK’s shale formations?
  17. At the lower oil price, North Sea oil is becoming increasingly uneconomic to extract. While there are obviously serious issues about job losses, proposals to support the continued production of oil from the North Sea seem incompatible with a serious commitment to limiting global warming [or “average global temperature rise] to two degrees by 2050. We already know that we can burn only 20% of known fossil fuel reserves globally if we are to stay with the upper limit compatible with a reasonable (about 75%) chance of keeping global warming below 2°C. What is the position of your party and what alternatives might you propose to deal with the loss of jobs?
  18. Will your party commit to the decarbonisation of the electricity supply by 2030? (Labour are committed to this already.)
  19. Does your party accept that for us to have a realistic chance (75%) of avoiding global warming of over 2°C, in the period up to 2050 the world can only burn one 5th (565 gigatons) of the current confirmed underground stocks of oil, gas and coal planned for extraction (2900 gigatons)? (Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark, The Burning Question). How would your party respond to this challenge, for example by developing plans to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and supporting innovations in and development of low carbon technologies, including financing clean energy research and development?
    (See Global Investor Statement on Climate Change signed by 365 investors representing more than US$24 trillion in investments.)
  20. Shorter version of the above question:
    Does your party acknowledge that the vast majority of confirmed and potential fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground if we are going to keep the rise in global temperature to below 2°C? If so, what action would your party take, for example phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels?
  21. The 4th Carbon Budget for 2023 to 2027 has been set in law with a reduction of 50% on 1990 figures. How would your party achieve this target?
  22. The UK energy sector needs a decarbonisation target in place as soon as possible. What will you and your Party do to ensure this happens?
  23. How would your Party incentivise the growth of renewable energy, including community energy projects?
  24. Does your party support the continued development of onshore wind power (one of the cheapest low carbon technologies)? If not how would your party ensure the development of sufficient low carbon technologies to meet the 2050 target? (This is of particular relevance to the Conservative party who may well include in their manifesto a commitment to phase out any further onshore wind power.)
  25. UK territorial emissions have declined steadily since 1990, at around 1% per year (21% in total between 1990 and 2008). At the same time, emissions associated with UK consumption have been increasing as we consume more products from overseas. Taking a consumption emissions approach the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen by nearly 1% a year (almost 20% in total between 1990 and 2008). If these trends continue, greenhouse gas emissions embedded in imports to the UK could be greater than UK territorial emissions by 2018. ( Energy and Climate Change: Memorandum submitted by Defra, DECC and BIS 16th of April 2012) Does your party acknowledge that we should accept responsibility for these emissions and include them in the 80% reduction by 2050?

Don’t forget, if you have other questions you think would be useful at hustings, we’d love you to share them with us, especially if they are shorter and snappier as well as meaningful!