The political climate changes: next government urged to put the environment first
As the general election draws near, Head of Public Affairs at the World Wide Fund for Nature Ben Stafford calls on future policy makers to prioritise environmental issues and and commit to tackling climate change
There is overwhelming evidence that without serious measures to counteract climate change, living standards will come under huge pressure. Likewise, there are huge economic and social gains to be made by promoting green growth and protecting biodiversity, quite apart from the intrinsic value of an environment, both at home and abroad, that is rich in wildlife. Public concern for environmental issues is very high, and the general election campaign presents a great opportunity to forge a national consensus around these opportunities.
Between them, the major parties’ election manifestos contain many commendable proposals to protect wildlife and natural capital, reduce emissions and lead internationally on issues like the illegal wildlife trade. But unfortunately we are seeing very little debate about these things, or about wider opportunities for the UK to lead internationally, in the day-to-day election campaigns. The parties owe it to voters to say more about their environmental priorities, and the media should report it when they do.
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Overlooking our environment makes little sense, however you look at it. For example, improving urban air quality alone could save up to £20 billion in avoided health costs. UK businesses could save £23 billion a year through no-cost or low-cost resource efficiency measures, based on the department for the environment’s own estimates. Improving the UK’s resource efficiency could generate half a million new jobs by 2030. And the joy that so many people experience in their encounters with wildlife and wild places is priceless, but widely shared – that’s why millions of people in the UK are members of environmental organisations, including WWF-UK.
We and those other organisations will continue to raise awareness of these issues and give a voice to the millions of people who want to see a sustainable future. International negotiations on carbon emissions later this year provide the perfect opportunity for renewed focus and decisive action from whoever forms the next government. ”
• WWF-UK is calling for the next government to build a clean economy, make sure the UK has healthy rivers and seas, and help save the world’s forests and wildlife. A
WWF manifesto builderenables people to lobby their local parliamentary candidates to take action on the environment.
• WWF-UK is also calling for the next government to reform Whitehall to help address urgent environmental issues, including by creating of an Office for Environmental Responsibility to oversee how government departments manage and spend our natural capital.
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