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Leaders’ debate: quality of discussion on climate ‘astoundingly poor’ – Friends of the Earth reaction

news release

During tonight’s ITV general election debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, the party leaders were quizzed over their plans to put climate at the centre of their policies. In response, Rosie Downes, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Given the magnitude of the climate emergency, the quality of debate during tonight’s head to head was astoundingly poor.

“There was no accountability for recent backtracking on green policies by both parties, with the Prime Minister denying outright that he scaled back his ambitions. The Labour leader did fare somewhat better by recognising the huge opportunities the transition to a green, clean economy will bring in terms of lower energy bills, new jobs and a safer more secure future, but neither fully acknowledged the scale of the challenge ahead.

“There was also a glaring gap where both parties’ plans to protect and restore nature ought to have been. Instead of giving soundbite answers and posturing to the public, we really needed to hear the substance of how both parties intend to meet the UK’s climate and nature targets, for which we’re veering dangerously off track.

“Given the scale and urgency that getting back on course demands, we must hear from all parties on how they intend to deliver on our goals, and avert the devastating consequences that will be felt by people both here in the UK, and globally, if our political leaders fail to act.” 


For more information and interviews contact the Friends of the Earth press office on 020 7566 1649 or email

Notes to editors:

1. About Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth is an international community dedicated to the protection of the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We bring together more than two million people in 75 countries, combining people power all over the world to transform local actions into global impact. For more information visit: follow us at @friends_earth, or like our Facebook page. Save paper and send an e-card today, available at

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