Heritage Party candidate: “abandon the commitment to net zero”

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The Heritage Party’s mayoral candidate told an audience on Tuesday (18 April) night that the adherence to green ideology is “economically insane” and the commitments to net zero carbon dioxide “should be abandoned”.

Alberto Thomas was speaking at the Bedford Mayoral Climate Hustings which was run by the University of Bedfordshire in collaboration with Bedfordshire Climate Change Forum (BCCF).

All five candidates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and their manifestos to the attendees.

Speaking last, Alberto said: “Now forgive me, I’m going to be a little bit different to these guys because we don’t think there is a climate emergency.

“Our manifesto says we believe that carbon dioxide is a natural atmospheric gas, it’s not a pollutant nor is it harmful.

“Human activity contributes very little to global warming, a phenomenon caused by naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, such as H2O CO2 and CH4.

“The adherence to green ideology is scientifically spurious and economically insane.

“We need to abandon the unnecessary commitments to net zero carbon dioxide emissions and ensure that we produce enough energy to keep our lights on and power our industry,” he said.

Alberto shared some of the Heritage Party’s national energy aims, such as reopening coal power stations and building 20 “smaller” nuclear power stations

“[Wind turbines] are a blot on the landscape that don’t work when the wind stops blowing or blows too fast.

“The intermittent nature means backups must always be available in case they stop producing electricity, which cause massive subsidies that increase the energy bills of every household.

“In addition, wind turbines kill vast numbers of birds, and offshore wind farms ruin the seabed, making them more harmful to the environment.

“We will begin the process of decommissioning wind farms and solar arrays from scarce farming land that can be returned to producing crops and the sea bed returning to marine life,” he said.

Alberto ended by reading out what he referred to as the closing arguments of a report, Achieving Net Zero, produced by Professor Michael Kelly.

This report was published by the Tufton Street-based organisation, The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

According to the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Foundation is an educational charity which aims “to advance the public understanding of global warming and of its possible consequences”. According to Wikipedia, “some of its prominent members individually, have been characterized as practising and promoting climate change denial.”

“‘My analysis requires the climate change community to go back, in all humility, and ask themselves really how bad will (as opposed to might) the world’s climate become?,” Alberto quoted.

“‘The proposed solution seems far worse for society than the problem. Half of their analyses of the future climate are based on a CO2 emissions scenario (RCP8.5) now debunked as excessively high.

“‘Their candour at this point would assist those making the case for funding climate adaptation, which will only be carried out when it becomes necessary.

“‘In the parlance of the Second World War, ‘Is this journey really necessary?’”, he said.

The Hustings rules did not allow candidates to be ‘cross examined’ by other candidates or by the audience, however, the Bedford Independent contacted each party’s candidate to understand their climate change policy.

Wildflowers in St Mary’s Gardens by Bedford College

Mr Thomas’ views on the climate crisis were not shared with the other candidates

Labour’s candidate, Saqhib Ali said: “The climate hustings was an important opportunity for Mayoral candidates to set out our environmental policies.

“Labour Councillors have led the way on protecting our environment, including the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency. A Labour-led council will build on this. Environmental assessments will be built into all major decisions being made by a Labour-run Bedford Borough Council. Other Parties may talk about protecting the environment but it’s Labour that have taken action and will continue to do so.”

Adrian Spurrell of the Green Party said it was great to be part of the event, allowing a large number of people to hear how each candidate will respond to climate challenges.

“Greens will put the climate emergency front and centre of its work in Bedford.  We can address all the challenges arising from the cost-of-living crisis in an environmentally friendly way and it is essential that we don’t let expediency stand in the way of doing what is necessary and required,” he said.

“It was positive to hear most of the other candidates at least talking about their concerns about climate change; though the many searching questions from the large audience, reflecting the level of concern about climate in the Borough, shows that residents want to see far more than is being done at present. 

“A lot needs to change and ‘business as usual’ which is largely what the other parties are offering, is nowhere near enough.”

The Conservative candidate, Tom Wootton, is a farmer and told the Bedford Independent that as someone who is reliant on the climate for their job, “weather is really important”.

He said he would work with East West Rail to “stop the destruction of homes and the environment” and increase monitoring and reporting of air pollution throughout the Borough and around the incinerator in Stewartby.

“It was a shame that perceived central government problems were the reasons some candidates gave as their responses to local problems.  This was a local hustings, for a local election held by local people.

“If elected as Mayor, as shared in my manifesto, I plan to have  a ‘Golden thread of greenness’ running through every policy we introduce – connecting everything up.  It is so important that we understand the climate impact of everything we do as a council.”

Seeking re-election, the Liberal Democrat candidate, Dave Hodgson said the hustings was an opportunity for him to outline the work that Bedford Borough Council has done to tackle climate change and champion biodiversity during his tenure.

“Declaring a climate emergency and committing the Council to become net zero by 2030; reducing the Council’s carbon emissions by over 62%; and the record-breaking tree planting programme and award-winning Bugs and Bees project,” he said.

“The Local Plan 2040 puts climate change at the heart of planning policy as much as possible, but we need more support and action from government.

“I will continue to expand the green economy and have a sustainable recovery that focuses on improving the skills of our workforce. We have dealt with our fair share of crises in the last few years, but the Climate Emergency remains the planet’s biggest threats.

“Our Borough can’t afford to take any backwards steps by changing course now, we must continue our march towards net zero.”

by John Guinn, Local Democracy Service
and Erica Roffe for the Bedford Independent