Main parties to go head-to-head on plans to recover nature

A coalition of the UK’s major nature and climate groups, including Chester Zoo, The Wildlife Trusts and Wildlife & Countryside Link, have joined forces to stage a landmark general election event, to put the major political parties in the hot seat on their nature and climate policies.

The ‘Big Nature & Climate Debate’ will be staged before a live audience on Monday 17th June and will be broadcast via YouTube at 7pm on Tuesday 18th June. It will provide a unique opportunity for voters to compare parties’ plans to achieve legally binding nature targets and utilise nature’s recovery to achieve net zero commitments.

Jamie Christon, CEO of Chester Zoo, said, “As a world-leading conservation and education charity, Chester Zoo is delighted to be stepping forward with the UK’s other major environmental organisations to host this crucial debate. We of course need more than just words though – this event has to be the catalyst for urgent action to tackle the nature and climate crisis. Restoring nature must be right at the top of the agenda for whichever political party forms the next government”.

In 2022, the UK signed an international deal to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. In England, that promise is underpinned by a legal duty in the Environment Act 2021 to stop the decline of species abundance, and a commitment to protect 30% of the land and sea for nature. These targets will be met or lost in the parliament elected in this general election, with the next five years also being crucial to staying on track to achieving net zero by 2050.

With nature and climate groups united in calling for ambitious policies from all parties to meet these targets, the Big Nature & Climate Debate will provide the opportunity for voters to hear directly from politicians about how they intend to address this crisis. This main environmental hustings of the general election campaign will take place before a live audience at Chester Zoo on the evening of 17 June, and will be shared to thousands more as part of The Wildlife Trusts’ broadcast programme.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said, “Over the last few years, opinion polls have consistently shown that British voters are greatly concerned about the climate and nature crises and want our political parties to do more – much more – to tackle both. People are fed up with hearing about river pollution, wildlife declines, floods and drought, and want urgent action. This debate will reveal whether the politicians wanting to form the next UK Government have the ambition, commitment and plans necessary to deliver the enormous change that’s needed to reverse the decline of nature, and protect the country from climate chaos.”

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife & Countryside Link, said, “The environment continues to be a top concern for the electorate, and more and more politicians want to be seen as advocates for nature and climate. But what are the political parties’ plans? Will they be ambitious enough to meet the 2030 target to halt nature’s decline?

“The parties have begun to set out environment plans, but significant gaps remain across the board, from investment in wildlife recovery to marine protection. The public deserve to know what the contenders to be the next Environment Secretary have to offer before they decide how to vote in the General Election. In the Big Nature & Climate Debate, we’ll give the politicians a chance to set out how they would rise to the historic challenge of reversing the decline of our natural world.”

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