Cameron Matthews, Woodbridge Hustings
Cameron Matthews, Woodbridge Hustings
Thursday 21 November, St Johns Church, St Johns Hill, Woodbridge

This popular pre-election event was attended by four of the five parliamentary candidates. The wide-ranging debate covered some of the most important national and local issues.

Here’s what Cameron had to say about Climate Change:

This is quite a personal passion for me. I think it’s something that is really, really critical. And just talking about the personal changes we can make, I’ve got solar panels, I fly less, I’ve made a significant number of changes in my life in terms of looking to reduce my personal emissions. But to touch on the commitment from the Conservatives as well, 2050 is far, far too far away. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that we need to halve global emissions by 2030 to truly have a good chance of tackling the existential crisis that we face, and Labour is setting a target of 2030 to net zero carbon emissions as part of our Green New Deal.

 

Now, again, coming back to why you might have seen some of the other things I’ve been involved in, Labour’s Green New Deal was moved by a firefighter. It was moved by Matt Wrack who’s the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union. And you can trace back where that came from. That came from a Fire Brigades Union policy at our own conference, which came from my region, and a few individuals and myself putting that motion through our conference to end up with Matt Wrack moving it at the National Labour Conference.

 

Now you might say: “That’s strange, why do firefighters care about climate change?” Because it’s working people, and working people have already been impacted by the outcomes of climate change undoubtedly. But why firefighters specifically? As I said at an environmental event in the summer, I was talking about the impact that we have actually on our workplace. We have seen massive increases in wildfires, we’ve seen massive increases in flooding, and when you countenance that against the cuts in our budget we just do not have the resources to be able to respond to some of these emergencies. And that puts our members at risk, lives at direct risk in the workplace.

Q. If you could implement one policy to offset climate change, what would it be?

The number of solar panels, Labour is committing to 22,000 football pitches of solar panels. We’re also committing to 7,000 offshore wind farms as well, and that will bring a million green jobs too. I don’t think there is one solution to climate change. We need an industrial-scale solution which addresses a number of issues, because we need to deal with this as individuals but also on an industry scale. It can’t just be done by LED lightbulbs and our own solar panels on our homes.

Q. And more buses?

And more buses. And renationalise rail. If we can transition people’s ability to be on state public transport that’s cheap and affordable then we can, of course, offset some of the emissions coming from private vehicles.

Q. Should meat be phased out on environmental grounds?

That’s an excellent question. My sister’s a vegan. I must admit I’m kind of a flexitarian because I do still eat meat. However, it’s a really, really important point. I think the best approach we can have to it is better education. There’s been some great documentaries on Netflix. I watched a recent documentary on sports stars and it actually showed the number of sports stars that were actually vegan and to consider some of the myths surrounding needing to eat meat to perform at an athletic level, that was kind of debunked in that documentary. So I think education is maybe a key direction about how we can transition people so first we start eating less meat because as a nation we do eat quite a considerable amount of meat, and also a lot of it is wasted, if I’m being frank, so maybe it’s about that. I think over a short period of time it’s going to be challenging but definitely over the longer period of time an educational approach both at adult level and in the curriculum itself would help us to get there, but I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to get there in the very, very short term future but definitely it’s a medium term goal and I think we’ll transition to definitely less consumption of meat as a society.

(Transcribed from an audio recording)

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