Southampton Test Reform candidate says climate change ‘bit
of a hoax’

Southampton Test Reform candidate says climate change ‘bit of a hoax’

John Edwards also said he did not think there was a climate emergency “as such” during the event at St James’ by the Park last week.

The four other Southampton Test candidates invited on the question time panel at the hustings disagreed with Mr Edwards’ claims.

During the hustings on Monday, June 24, which was organised by Churches Together in Shirley, Mr Edwards was first to answer a question on why climate change was not dominating the election agenda.

Southampton Test hustings event at St James\' by the Park, Shirley. Pictured from left to right Katherine Barbour, Ben Burcombe-Filer, John Edwards, Vicar Dan Clark, Thomas Gravatt and Satvir KaurSouthampton Test hustings event at St James\’ by the Park, Shirley. Pictured from left to right Katherine Barbour, Ben Burcombe-Filer, John Edwards, Vicar Dan Clark, Thomas Gravatt and Satvir Kaur

He said: “I’m one of those who don’t really think there is a climate emergency as such.

“I can put my hand on my heart and say this is just a change in the weather, my friends.

“I think climate change is a bit of a hoax. It is a good excuse for governments to raise taxes. Tax you and me. Raise green levies.”

He added that as a gardener, he works in the environment every day, and that the former Soviet Union diverting rivers to drain seas was a man-made action that changed the climate.

The next speaker, Liberal Democrat Thomas Gravatt, opened by saying: “Well that was fun. Back over here in the real world, we know climate change is an existential threat to humanity and to our planet, and the Liberal Democrats are committed to actually making a difference and acting urgently to stop it.”

Mr Gravatt said his party wanted government to directly invest in renewable energy and make it easier to buy an electric vehicle.

READ MORE: Southampton Itchen MP candidates quizzed at hustings ahead of election

“Government needs to take urgent action on climate change. This should be the number one priority and as an MP I would be thinking about the climate with every single vote.”

Satvir Kaur, who is seeking to succeed Labour colleague Alan Whitehead as the Southampton Test MP, confirmed she believed there was a climate emergency.

She said: “I believe that we are the first generation to really understand its impact and the last generation to actually do something about it.

“It’s something the Labour Party are extremely passionate about. It’s why it goes hand in hand with our growth strategy.”

Green Party candidate Katherine Barbour said she agreed on considering climate in every decision, adding that “we really need to be thinking about this every single policy both at a local council level and nationally”.

Ben Burcombe-FIler, Conservative, said he was not going to tell the audience climate change was not a thing because he had seen the evidence.

He said: “The one thing no one has talked about so far is people. People live on this planet.

“I believe in climate change but I also believe we have to deal with it in a way that doesn’t damage people’s livelihoods.”

Organisers of the hustings decided not to invite Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate Maggie Fricker and Workers Party candidate Wajahat Shaukat to be on the panel.

Instead, they were invited to respond briefly in front of the audience at the end of the evening.

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