We need to build back green, not grey – that’s why we’re re-launching the Environment APPG
Sir David Attenborough speaking at the first UK-wide citizens assembly on climate change (Climate Assembly UK), Jan 2020| PA Images
We’re facing a crucial decade on green policy – it is up to MPs to ensure the environment remains a top priority
The British are a nation of nature lovers. This is never more apparent than in our reaction when we watch, read or hear that our natural world remains at risk, as highlighted this week by David Attenborough. We are rightly concerned that there are profound and urgent threats facing our planet.
We know we have little over a decade left to halve global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate breakdown. We understand the devastating losses we are seeing every day to precious habitats and species. In Parliament, we know this is something that the British people want to see politicians put at the top of the political agenda.
Shouting, street protests and sit-ins are all very well, but in a modern democracy they will never hold a candle to informed and rational debate
The government has therefore put forward an ambitious programme, with the National Tree Strategy, COP26 and the new Energy White Paper all scheduled for the next 18 months, alongside working to ensure that the economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic builds back green, not grey. While I’m delighted by the government’s commitment on these issues, it remains up to MPs to ensure these remain a top priority.
That’s why we’re relaunching the Environment All-Party Parliamentary Group, bringing a new secretariat on-board hosted by Green Alliance. The support, the scrutiny and the challenge of engaged MPs and organisations is essential to evolve this argument. Shouting, street protests and sit-ins are all very well, but in a modern democracy they will never hold a candle to informed and rational debate.
There’s a long and proud history of cross-party support for the action on the environment – from the Climate Change Act (which only 3 MPs voted against) to the wildly-supported new environmental laws we’re putting in place now we’re leaving the European Union. With the threats we face becoming more urgent than ever before, there is a need for coordinated and non-partisan effort to solve them. Consensus and cooperation has never been more important.
Crucial to this is the support of organisations and experts with a passion to deliver on this subject. In partnering with Green Alliance, the APPG will be vastly more able to bring about change at the speed and scale necessary to reverse nature's decline and create a greener, fairer, low carbon economy. Their long history of close working relationships with a wide network of non-governmental organisations and legislators, including founding the Greener UK coalition in 2016, will be essential as we look for ideas, debates and strategies to put environmental priorities at the heart of Government policy.
This is the start of a crucial decade. Ahead of the 2021 ‘Super Year’ for the environment, relaunching the Environment APPG will ensure all politicians are armed with the facts and evidence to push for bold and urgent action. Through acting together to solve the crisis facing us, we have everything to gain.
Not to do so risks the future of our civilisation. Let’s not miss this opportunity.
Anthony Browne is Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire and the new chair of the Environment APPG
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