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Climate and nature must go hand in hand in our fight for net-zero

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

3 min read

Former Co-Leader of the Green Party and former Member of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Caroline Lucas, puts forward the importance of addressing both the climate and nature together to help combat climate change

The natural world in Britain is in a state of emergency. We are now one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. And if we don’t address that crisis of the United Kingdom’s biodiversity loss, then even our low-ambition commitment of net-zero by 2050 is on the line.

Because the stark reality is that there is no path to net-zero without tackling the decline of our natural world as well. They are inextricably interlinked. Nature loss accelerates climate change, and vice versa.

Protecting and restoring healthy ecosystems, like peatlands, woodlands and wetlands, on the other hand, can create huge carbon sinks to absorb emissions and build natural defences against extreme weather impacts.

The intertwined nature of the crises, and their solutions, means tackling one without the other is not only ineffective but also counterproductive. Nature-based solutions are also often cheaper and more sustainable than technological fixes.

Yet all too often when politicians talk about the climate crisis, nature is absent from the conversation. The new government cannot make the same mistake.

Restoring our natural world must become a core national mission − starting with a new legal commitment to reverse nature loss, together with the funding and policies to actually deliver it.

We need plans for large-scale habitat restoration and real protections for conservation areas. We need a ban on harmful chemicals and pesticides. We need to protect our oceans and waters. And, crucially, we must address the challenge of modern agriculture’s major contribution to climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Yet all too often when politicians talk about the climate crisis, nature is absent from the conversation”

Farmers, who manage 70 per cent of UK land, could be key agents of change, driving our green transition forward. But many are already in survival mode, struggling to cope with the impacts of climate change already destroying harvests and threatening livelihoods.

They desperately need to make the transition to nature-friendly and climate-friendly farming, but they need urgent help to do it, both financial and technical, with clear and consistent policies as well as reform of the Environmental Land Management Scheme and much more funding for its Landscape Recovery Scheme.

But we also need broader systemic change – from a Climate and Nature Act to tackle both crises together across government, to enshrining the rights of nature into law.

The new government must act decisively. Our home is on fire, and it is being bulldozed before our eyes. In this short window to avert catastrophic climate change, the nature crisis can be ignored no longer.

This article was originally published in The Path To Net Zero supplement circulated alongside The House magazine. To find out more visit The Path To Net Zero hub.

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