Young people are being given the chance to air their concerns about climate change this Friday at St Andrews Church in Cheltenham.

The event will be based around the BBC’s popular debate programme, ‘Question Time’ and will feature a panel of politicians who directly answer questions posed to them by students. Organised by Vision21, Gloucestershire’s premier sustainability charity, the event is free to attend but online registration is required.

Due to the current political climate and the issues surrounding the UK’s relationship with the EU, it looks as though the forthcoming coverage is to heavily focus on Brexit. By contrast, the Vision21 event allows students of surrounding schools to feel engaged in decision making, an opportunity that many under 18-year-olds don’t have the chance to do.  

The line-up includes:

  • Molly Scott Cato; Green MEP, who is currently a prospective parliamentary candidate for Stroud
  • Alex Chalk; Conservative MP for Cheltenham. Chalk tabled a bill for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which then became a law
  • Martin Horwood; Former MP for Cheltenham and Liberal Democrat MEP.
  • Max Wilkinson; Cheltenham Local Councillor and Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate
  • George Penny; member of the Cheltenham Labour Party

As well as four politicians, the discussion will be chaired by Professor Janet Dwyer, the Director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire. She is an experienced evaluator of agricultural and environmental policies and has been appointed to keep the discussion focused and ensure questions are answered fully.

Any questions can be emailed to the organisation beforehand at pclegg@vision21.org.uk, although it has been stated on their website that there will be time for additional questioning at the end of the session. If you want to follow the debate online, the hashtag ‘#QTCheltenham’ will be used on Twitter, and the organisers hope to live-stream the discussion too.  

Above: Cheltenham’s MP has campaigned for the environment in several important ways. He is also an advocate of reducing single use plastics and hosts events to promote the benefits of the scheme.

A Vision21 trustee, Peter Clegg expressed his ‘excitement for tomorrows event’ and said “hosting a Question Time event for school age students is just such a brilliant way for us to celebrate our (Vision21’s) 25th birthday. I am so pleased the politicians all said ‘yes’ without hesitation. We have an excellent Chair to make sure there is no whitewash or greenwash.”

Above: Former Professor at the University of Roehampton, Molly Scott Cato speaks for the Green Party and has published works on green economics and localism.

Vision21 also plan to display an exhibition at the church, with a timeline that shows the charities’ journey and marks their 25th anniversary year. The second part of the timeline then looks at the future and reveals rising temperatures and populations to students. Peter hopes showing the timeline to the students before the panel arrive will “inspire the students to ask some really good questions”.  It is hoped that the afternoon will get students thinking about the wider implications of climate change and how this is likely to impact their lives in the coming years.

The event happens this Friday 18th October at 1pm. Full details of how to register are available on the EventBrite ticket booking site.

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