Party leaders to go head-to-head in ‘Climate Debate’

After casting the upcoming general election as the ‘climate election’, the Green Party has welcomed Channel 4’s announcement to host a leaders’ debate focusing on the climate crisis. But whilst the leaders of the major opposition parties have confirmed their attendance, Boris Johnson is yet to comment on his participation.

Sian Berry
Sian Berry
Imogen Benson

Channel 4 will be hosting the UK’s first-ever ‘Climate Debate’ next week, after a petition calling for such a debate attracted nearly 200,000 signatures.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Green Party Co-leader Sian Berry have all confirmed their attendance, whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stayed silent on his involvement.  

This isn’t the first time Johnson has refused to attend a televised debate – Channel 4 was forced to cancel its leaders’ debate on Sunday after the prime minister turned down the opportunity to go head-to-head with Corbyn.

The Conservative leader did participate in ITV’s debate on Tuesday (19 November) against Corbyn, although the environment was granted minimal attention, with the climate crisis relegated to a brief ‘quickfire’ question. 

Commenting on the importance of climate change in this election, Sian Berry, Green Party Co-leader, said: “Greens have set the agenda calling for this to be the climate election, alongside an enormous global movement of young people, and millions who know we cannot risk policies that will lead to runaway climate chaos.

“This election could be the last opportunity for voters to set the UK on track to tackle the climate emergency. The Green manifesto sets out how this can be done, and it is vital that the prime minister and all other party leaders debate this together.

“I’m excited that we will be able to set out the Green Party’s ambitious manifesto for voters and hold the other parties to account for their constant dither and delay that has brought us into this crisis.

“In particular, we need to pin Boris Johnson down on his dismal environmental record. However, we understand that he won’t even bother to turn up. This is the man who has avoided scrutiny at every possible opportunity. He has been prime minister for over six months, but only attended three Prime Minister’s Questions, which are supposed to be weekly. Now he has called an election but doesn’t want to be exposed to the electorate.

“The prime minister must attend the Climate Debate.”