On Thursday 21 July 2016, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the British Ecological Society (BES), and the Sibthorpe Trust, brought together a panel of politicians and experts, to debate the future of the natural environment in the wake of the UK’s narrow EU referendum result on 23 June.
Chaired by broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, the panel, consisting of Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour), Baroness Parminter (Liberal Democrats, Environment Spokesperson) Natalie Bennett (Green Party, Leader), George Eustice MP (Conservatives, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment), Stuart Agnew MEP (UKIP, Agriculture Spokesperson), and Martin Nesbit (Senior Fellow, Institute for European Environmental Policy), debated issues such as domestic agricultural policy, animal welfare, and climate change.
Supported by the Society for the Environment and the Wellcome Trust, the event invited questions from the audience to challenge the panellists on how an EU exit could affect the environment, in the UK and beyond, generating debate online using #PPPAnyQs.
Jonathan Dimbleby opened the debate by saying, ‘I was reflecting before coming here that we’ve been through this Brexit campaign, which was, to put it mildly, bruising, sometimes brutal, in which distortions, half-truths, outright lies, combined to create a very uncomfortable context for such a major decision that was being made.
‘I was also thinking that not only was this the most seismic decision that this country has taken, essentially since the Second World War, but also how the long-term impact on the environment, on biodiversity, climate change, of the decisions that we do or don’t make in the short, medium and long-term, far transcend whether you believe there is merit or demerit in the Brexit decision itself.’