Author Archives: Green Alliance blog

Government impoverishment of the environmental principles should worry us all

This post is by Professor Maria Lee, co-director of the Centre for Law and the Environment at UCL.

Defra’s Draft environmental principles policy statement has finally been published for consultation. This statement is a crucial part of the move from EU law and policy, to the domestic regime set out for England by the Environment Bill. This move  involves shifting from a system in which the environmental principles were systemic and legally binding, to one in which they will be creatures of government policy not law, considered only in ministerial policy making rather than across the board, and subject to deep carve outs.

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Cumbria is one place that could really benefit from a green recovery plan

This post is by Nick Robins, professor in practice for sustainable finance at the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute, and Ciara Shannon, director of EdenWorks

Cumbria is a county with a strong industrial heritage and unrivalled natural assets. But it has also attracted international notoriety for the county council’s decision to approve plans to open the new Woodhouse Colliery. The decision is widely seen to be wholly incompatible with the UK’s climate objectives: the Climate Change Committee (CCC) states that “a new coking coal mine in Cumbria will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets”. More than this, the colliery risks becoming a stranded asset, as the use of coking coal in steelmaking could be displaced completely by 2035, according to the CCC. This means that any economic benefits in terms of regional revitalisation and jobs would be fragile and short lived.

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Government should be helping to transform protected landscapes for the good of nature, climate and people

This post is by Abi Bunker, director of conservation and external affairs at the Woodland Trust; David Hampson, sites policy officer at the RSPB; Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation and restoration ecology at the National Trust; and Jo Smith, CEO at The Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts.

In 2019, the Glover Review concluded that England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are uniquely placed to drive nature’s recovery, deliver nature-based solutions to the climate crisis and connect people with nature. It also found that these protected landscapes are falling a long way short of their potential. Successive surveys, such the one conducted by the Campaign for National Parks in 2016, have highlighted that the public wants them to play these roles and the review proposed the changes needed.

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US import protections show how the UK can set high, WTO compliant food trade standards

This post is by Megan Waters, international trade advisor to WWF-UK and former US trade negotiator.

Last summer, the public in the UK – showing far more passion on the subject than many in Whitehall would have expected – spoke nearly with one voice on the subject of food.  They made clear that they do not want food standards undermined as part of trade negotiations with the United States, or with anyone else for that matter.

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After the Dasgupta Review: what the Treasury should do next

This post is by Beccy Speight, CEO, and Paul Morling, principal economist of the RSPB.

Silent Spring triggered a new era of awareness of the harm we can do to nature when it was published in 1962. Its author, Rachel Carson, said, “The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road the one ‘less travelled by’ offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth.” 

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The budget shouldn’t miss the chance to put the UK on track for net zero

This post is by the Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee.

This week, all eyes will be on the chancellor’s budget, where he will decide which fiscal and monetary levers to pull to revive the economy from its greatest contraction in over three centuries. It is crucial that the measures materially help the goal of net zero Britain.

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We still don’t know enough about new heat technologies to decide the best way forward

This post is by Dr Robert Sansom, independent consultant and member of the IET’s Energy Policy Panel.

Recently, Professor Cebon wrote on this blog that pursuing the hydrogen economy would be a mistake. I am neither an advocate of hydrogen nor am I associated with the oil and gas industry, but I was the lead author of a report, produced by the IET in 2019, which focused on the engineering questions that need to be addressed if the UK is to transition to hydrogen.  There are also major questions around the electrification of heat. Until these questions are dealt with, I do not believe anyone can say that one technology is better than another.

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Why isn’t there a wind turbine emoji?

This post is by Dr Alice Bell, co-director of the climate charity Possible.

Chatter about emoji might seem frivolous. But whether it’s a drop of blood symbol helping to lift the taboo around periods or adding emotional context to conversations that have moved online during lockdown, emoji play a crucial role in modern culture. Like gifs, memes and other cultural references, emoji are part of how we talk to each other today. As such, it only seems sensible that the ever growing emoji vocabulary should include symbols relating to climate change. There’s an oil drum, a gas pump and a power station, so why nothing relating to green tech?

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Why a green recovery needs a blue recovery at its heart

This post is by Tom Fewins, head of policy & advocacy at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Here’s a question for you: what does ‘Ramsar’ stand for?

While some may see it as shorthand for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, it is actually named after a place. The Iranian city of Ramsar sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where this multilateral agreement was first signed; this year the Ramsar Convention marks its 50th anniversary.

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