The urgent need to tackle climate change took centre stage on Kingston Green Radio's 'Great Green Debate' last night (March 6).

Regional politicians clashed over approaches to tackling climate change and pollution live during the event at Kingston Environment Centre (KEC) and responded to questions submitted by the Surrey Comet live during the debate.

The event was hosted by KEC's Henry Riley, and featured four panellists: The Viscount Hanworth Stephen Pollock (Labour), Jean Lambert (Green Party MEP), Sarah Olney (prospective Richmond Park candidate, Liberal Democrats) and Councillor Aphra Brandreth (Conservatives).

Among the topics up for discussion were the merits of fracking and nuclear energy, the impact of the planned Heathrow airport expansion and the usefulness of social movements and protests in dealing with climate breakdown.

Asked by the Surrey Comet whether we all ought to be joining the growing climate strike movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the panellists were generally supportive.

Ms Olney said: "I thought the school climate strike was's that people feel they can make their own contribution and join protests and I think that's really important.

"Our current system of politics is very poorly set up for making good decisions about climate change...I was so disappointed with the Prime Minister's response to the strikes suggesting young people should be in school so they could solve the problem in the future. No! You should be solving this problem now..."

Mr Pollock meanwhile called the protests "laudable" and said: "I think we should militate in every which way given the dimensions of the problems we are facing," caveating that violent direction actions however would be "counterproductive."

Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey (Liberal Democrats) also submitted a question to the panel, concerning how Brexit would affect the UK's approach to addressing climate change.

Cllr Brandreth responded, saying: "I am an optimist and I believe we can have even better, stronger environmental standards and outcomes...We've got to be reactive to the situation we're in."

Mr Pollock said: "It's absolutely tragic in my view that, having worked so hard on promoting these issues, we're backing away...Brexit is not good for the environment, despite what (the Conservative party) has been proposing."

Both the Surrey Comet and Kingston's sole Green Party Councillor Sharron Sumner whether regional councils should be declaring a climate emergency.

Ms Lambert said: "The more councils that do it the more others feel encouraged to take this on because it's something we can work on together and show that it doesn't all have to come from the government down...that change can be from the local level up as well."

Cllr Brandreth meanwhile declined to advocate for the climate emergency, saying: "There's not just one silver bullet answer," and adding there was a range of approaches local government could take from planting more trees to promoting renewables."

KEC said a video of the entire debate would be uploaded to its Youtube channel at: