SUPPORT for the Green Party is strong in Brighton and Hove and this General Election is crucial for the future of our planet, writes co-party leader Jonathan Bartley

Every election is unique and each one probably feels pivotal to those fighting it.

But this one really is a turning point for our country, and our planet. We face so many challenges from Brexit to the threat to our democracy. But hanging over all of them is the climate and environmental emergency.

The science is clear – the next ten years are the small window of opportunity we have left to try to change the dangerous path we are on now which is leading straight to catastrophic, runaway climate change.

We cannot go on as we are. If ever there was a time to vote Green, it’s now.

I know that the voters of Brighton and Hove are already way ahead of the rest of the country in your awareness of the climate emergency and all other environmental issues. That’s why you elected our first Green MP in Caroline Lucas, and why you have voted for such a strong Green voice on your local council.

We have the strongest policies of any party for tackling the climate emergency with our Green New Deal – a bold programme of reform to transform the UK and improve the quality of life for everyone by creating a safer, fairer future for all.

The Green New Deal means investing £100 billion a year in a shared future, funding improvements in energy, housing, transport infrastructure, food and farming and providing a universal basic income for all.

It sounds like a huge sum – though it’s only a little more than the education budget, which is also an investment in our future. But if we are to transform our society in the way that’s needed, we need to think big in the same way that American president Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s.

The Government found £500 billion to bail out the banks in 2008. The future of our planet is far more important yet the sums being put forward by this government amount to pennies in comparison.

We have to invest in our infrastructure to make it resilient to what’s happening to our climate. And the longer we leave it, the more expensive it will be.

It’s not just a question of adapting to climate change. We can build a better society at the same time. The shortage of genuinely affordable housing, and the poor condition of so much private rented housing, is a major issue in Brighton and Hove.

The Green New Deal would deliver heating upgrades for one million homes a year across the country and the building of 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes a year. That doesn’t just mean more homes for people; they’d also be warmer with lower energy bills.

For people in Brighton and Hove, it would mean £87 million for insulating or retrofitting existing homes, and an extra 400 council homes per year, on top of current commitments.

We’d also invest in our NHS (and reverse the Tories’ creeping privatisation plans) – an extra £26 million locally, and put an extra £15 million in Brighton and Hove’s schools with more for adult education.

We’re also committed to transforming our transport system, investing in reliable, affordable electric trains, buses and trams so that people don’t have to use their cars. Traffic congestion in Brighton is a cause of major air pollution, particularly in North Street.

We’d open new rail connections that remove bottlenecks, put more freight on trains, and improve journey times and frequencies - with money for this coming from the scrapping of the damaging and wasteful HS2 project.

Brighton and Hove is one of the most welcoming cities in Britain, so it was no surprise that nearly 70 per cent voted to remain in the EU. We are a proudly pro-European party and campaigning for Britain to Remain in the EU.

But we reject the idea that the Brexit referendum should just be ignored, which is why we want a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal, with people also given the option to stay in the EU. We would then work to transform the EU so that it not only leads the fight against the climate emergency, but also improves the lives of workers, those on low incomes and refugees.

But whatever happens, we will guarantee the full rights of EU citizens and their families living in the UK, including the right to automatic settled status. Their treatment by this government, and the broken promises that their lives in this country were secure, has been shameful.

It is not only our environment which needs rescuing and our economy which needs transforming through a Green New Deal. Our democracy is also on life support and is facing real threats from a Conservative government which has shown disregard for the rule of law and the sovereignty of Parliament.

Every Green vote in this election is a vote for a better future – for our climate, our communities and our country.

There’s never been a more important election to vote Green. If not now, when?