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Mon, 15 April 2024

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Government must seize our 10-point plan for the environment

(Alamy)

3 min read

It has been almost a year since the United Kingdom hosted COP26 and published its net-zero strategy. Public support for action on climate and nature remains resolute, despite the inflationary challenges posed by Russia’s horrific war in Ukraine.

Scarcity, from gas to grain, drives up prices and threatens to undermine our security and prosperity. Some have wrongly suggested that, in a time of economic pressure, we should ditch or row back on our environmental commitments. That would be an unpopular and strategic error. 

Sensible and progressive environmental policymaking is the best route out of so many of the problems we face, both in the short and long term. From improving soil health to increase food security, to investing in green skills to raise productivity, to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to improve energy sovereignty, we have the answers. 

Every wind turbine we build, solar panel we deploy and home we insulate is a megawatt of gas we save in the fight against energy inflation and climate change

Published by the All-Party Environment Group today, the 10-point plan for climate and nature presents a menu of policy options for the new government to seize. 

Not only should we be looking to implement and successfully deliver existing measures in the net-zero strategy or Environment Act, but we should also be driving forward new plans to build on, accelerate, and electrify those achievements. 

Take offshore wind as just one example. In May this year, the Environment APPG took MPs and Peers to visit the Rampion Offshore windfarm in Sussex. It has already been a British success story, using our comparative advantage as a windy island nation to massively ramp up our use of cheap domestic renewable energy. That site alone powers 350,000 homes (half of Sussex). 

Offshore wind is now the cheapest source of energy we have. But industry believe floating offshore wind will overtake fixed-bottom offshore wind in the UK by 2050. That’s why the 10-point plan is calling for the government to increase its target from 5GW by 2030 to 15GW by 2035, securing global market share and helping to unblock barriers to deployment through government. 

Every wind turbine we build, solar panel we deploy, and home we insulate, is a megawatt of gas we save in the fight against energy inflation and climate change. 

And as for nature, it is a crucial year in the fight against nature’s decline. All year, the Environment APPG has been calling on the UK to make COP15, the UN biodiversity summit, a “Paris moment for nature”, securing global agreement to protect and restore nature by 2030. The Prime Minister has pledged her commitment and attendance and we hope the UK can lead from the front as it did at COP26. 

Shockingly, the UK remains one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with almost half of our species in long-term decline. The Environment Act must set ambitious targets for water, waste, biodiversity and air quality by next month, and we also need to see flagship policies like the Environmental Land Management Scheme protected and supported to deliver for farmers, the taxpayer, and for nature. 

We have a responsibility as one of the largest historical emitters, but also as one of the wealthiest countries, with expertise in business, research and development, to help bend the curve on climate and reverse nature’s decline. Internationally, countries continue to look to the UK for global leadership on climate and nature, but domestically – our businesses and voters are crying out for it too. It’s why this 10-point plan for climate and nature has backing from parliamentarians of all parties, metro mayors, leading businesses and academics. And it’s why the government should take heed of our new report. 

 

Baroness Young, Labour peer and vice-chair of Environment APPG. Rebecca Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane and former environment minister.

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