Author Archives: Green Alliance blog

WHO’s air quality guidelines need to be used now by the UK

Dr Maria Neira, director of environment, climate change and health at WHO.

WHO’s new global air quality guidelines remind us that much of what we think of as environmental policy is actually health policy. They pull health back into the heart of discussions on air quality and prompt the question, “how much risk of damage to the electorate’s health from air pollution are we willing to live with, given what we now know?”

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The Judicial Review and Courts Bill threatens to deter challenges to unlawful environmental decisions

This post is by Carol Day, legal consultant to the RSPB and public interest law firm Leigh Day and Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth.

On Monday, the Judicial Review and Courts Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. Coincidentally, Monday is also when the seventh Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention opens. This UN convention, to which the UK is party, seeks to ensure that civil society has rights pivotal to the effective functioning of democracy, including access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters.

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COP26: it’s time to deliver

This is an extract from a speech by the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, to Green Alliance on 13 October 2021.

I want to try to draw lessons for Glasgow from the ill-fated Copenhagen summit, which I attended as UK climate change secretary, and the successful Paris Summit of 2015. Copenhagen ended in acrimony for a whole range of reasons, but partly it was the result of a breakdown in trust between developing and vulnerable countries on one hand and developed countries on the other.

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Food insecurity and the climate crisis are grounds to reframe thinking around land in the UK

This post is by the journalist and author Peter Hetherington.

We are reaching a pivotal moment, a crunch time for food security in a UK which produces barely 60 per cent of the crops it needs. An acute shortage of both HGV drivers, and people prepared to pick veg and fruit (EU nationals now largely denied access to Brexit Britain) has, once again, exposed the fragility of just in time delivery to supermarkets.  It’s a system developed for car assembly plants but ill-suited to the vagaries of food distribution across long distances.

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The German election result has moved climate centre stage

This post is by Ben Westerman, freelance political adviser working with Green Alliance.

The technocratic world of German politics bares little resemblance to the freneticism of Westminster but, in the wake of September’s federal election, coalition talks could prove crucial to global climate ambitions. With the running of the world’s fourth largest economy up for grabs, climate policy is the faultline and, as an industrial superpower, what happens next in Germany is crucial before and after COP26.

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Exmoor is showing what a 21st century National Park can look like

This post is by Tony Whitehead, England communications manager for RSPB.  

In September last year, Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land for nature by 2030. The government statement that accompanied his announcement gave details of just what this entails, it said:  

“Existing National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and other protected areas already comprise approximately 26 per cent of land in England. An additional 4 per cent – over 400,000 hectares, the size of the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined – will be protected to support the recovery of nature.”  

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive explained

This post is by Jonathan Baker, deputy director for programme policy, engagement and strategy in Defra’s future farming and countryside programme.

It’s the look of excitement that gets you. Working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), I and other Defra officials are talking to civil servants around the world about how, in the run up to COP26, our reforms to agricultural policy in England represent a model for other nations to address the nature and climate crises.

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Where are the whistleblowers for the climate crisis?

This post is by Elizabeth Gardiner, chief executive of Protect.

As Belinda Gordon reported in her recent blog, the largest criminal investigation ever conducted by the Environment Agency led to  Southern Water being fined a record £90 million for 51 pollution offences over a five year period (2010-15).  What was striking was that these events were with corporate knowledge. This wasn’t accidental leaks or damage to sewage pumps, this was premeditated environmental damage. Yet, as with so many disaster stories whether in the public or private sector, someone, somewhere inside the organisation knew something was wrong, but were not heard.

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Why local areas need to be given more power to move to net zero

This post is by Amy Norman, senior researcher at the Social Market Foundation.

Over the next three decades, the pursuit of net zero will transform localities throughout the UK. This will bring opportunities for creating businesses and jobs in new green technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and renewables on land and at sea. The good news is that many of these projects are already underway, like the recent approval of major decarbonisation plans for six industrial clusters from South Wales to St Fergus.

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