How London is shifting the nature debate

Vauxhall Pocket Park Piazza 2 credit Vauxhall OneThis post is by Peter Massini, principal policy officer – green infrastructure, at the Greater London Authority. He writes here in a personal capacity.

The natural environment sector shares a general aim: the protection, conservation and improvement of nature. It has had some notable successes, mainly relating to the protection and enhancement of the most special parts of the natural environment. But, despite the array of policies, protocols and projects the sector has helped to develop and deliver, most of us would admit we haven’t been as successful as we would have liked. Most indicators show many UK habitats and species continuing to decline. Continue reading

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Seven things you should know about the EU and the environment


Corn bunting1. The EU is also an environment union
The EU was established for economic reasons but has evolved into an environment union.  Threats like air pollution, climate change and habitat loss mean the UK and its neighbours have used the EU to agree over 100 new laws to protect people and the environment. These cover everything from reducing the risk of industrial chemical accidents to protecting rare birds. The EU now has the biggest programme of environmental legislation in the world. Continue reading

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Natural capital and nature conservation champions don’t need to fight

View of English grazing sheep in countrysideThis post is by Green Alliance’s policy director, Sue Armstrong Brown.

The internecine struggle between supporters of natural capital and nature conservation continues to dominate the debate about how to restore the declining health of the UK’s natural environment. But what if they’re both right?

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How the EU has protected us and the environment – book review

Book coverThe first rule of politics is ‘be there’ and Nigel Haigh was there. In and out of Brussels for some 30 years, both influencing and observing the emergence of EU environment policy.   Continue reading

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The story of the voles, the ditch and the prime minister

A little wild water vole eating some juicy blackberries looking at the cameraThis post is by conservationist and blogger Miles King. A version first appeared on his blog.

Those who believe that nature is important and that, for it to be better protected from the activities of people, the best approach is to gather evidence – scientific evidence – analyse it and present it to those in power, should heed this story. Continue reading

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The trouble with targets

This post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis. It also appears on her website.

Yesterday, the prime minister was directly asked the question that we’ve all been waiting for: is the UK’s domestic climate policy compatible with the Climate Change Act, and the new Paris Agreement? Continue reading

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Farming vs flood protection: why we need to get the balance right

This post is by conservationist and blogger Miles King. A version first appeared on his blog.

So much has been written about the recent flooding that I have resisted the temptation to jump in with size 12 boots; not least because, so far, we have escaped the worst of it in the south west. Continue reading

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The plan to tackle UK air pollution won’t be enough to protect health

air pollution over LondonThis post is by Professor Martin Williams of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London. He was previously chairman of the Executive Body of the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

At this time of year it’s customary to present awards for achievements over the previous year. If there was an award for Air Pollutant of the Year then nitrogen dioxide would surely win. Continue reading

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The Paris agreement is a clever new system to drive climate action

This post is by Michael Jacobs and Ipek Gençsü. Michael is visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE and senior adviser to the New Climate Economy project. Ipek is research and engagement  co-ordinator at the New Climate Economy project. This post was originally published by the Grantham Research Institute, LSE.

The Paris agreement provides a remarkably strong basis for future global action on climate change. Going into the COP21 conference, many commentators believed that the result would be a minimalist ‘lowest common denominator’ agreement at worst, a fudged compromise at best. In fact the agreement lies at almost the highest level of ambition that could possibly have been achieved. It is underpinned by a sophisticated understanding of how political and economic change occurs. Continue reading

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Voluntary approaches to policy making aren’t working

Policies Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.This post is by Paul Morling, principal economist for the RSPB.

UK and EU policy makers have increasingly favoured the use of voluntary approaches, like industry self regulation, as a low cost, more flexible alternative to binding regulations or market based instruments.

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