In what could be his last days as environment secretary, Michael Gove has delivered an agenda setting speech in which he lamented the catastrophic loss of biodiversity across the globe and at home, highlighting that the UK is now one of the most nature-depleted nations in the world. He drew attention to the many other environmental threats we face, including the scourge of plastic pollution, toxic air and threats to water quality. Michael Gove’s self-confessed conversion from ‘shy green’ to ‘full-throated environmentalist’ is now complete. Read more
Last week, Green Conservatism came of age. The Conservative Environment Network launched a manifesto, supported by 41 MPs including senior backbenchers and members of newer intakes. This is significant because, at this time, it seems that parliament agrees on very little. But it is also significant as it is bursting with solutions to the environmental crisis and is a positive statement of intent on what can and must be done to preserve and restore our planet for future generations. Read more
I am inspired and brimming with hope. Yesterday I was part of the biggest ever environmental lobby of parliament. I felt a small cog in a big wheel of change as around 12,000 people travelled from across the UK to parliament to urge their MPs to take action on the environment and climate emergency. Surfers, farmers, countryside rangers, school children, students, firefighters and medics all joined forces to deliver this message to their MP: we care passionately about the environment and we want you to listen and do something now.
I spent some of the day walking the mile-long lobby queue to find out why so many people had given up their time. Here are some of the things I learned. Read more
In her Mansion House speech in March 2017 the prime minister said “As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage”. But her speech yesterday appears to ignore the government’s commitments to improve and not just maintain standards.
On the face of it the commitment that “there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU” should be reassuring as the government has repeatedly said that standards will not be weakened by Brexit. But no change infers no improvement which, when facing an environmental crisis, seems very wide of the mark. Read more
This week I gave evidence to the Liaison Committee, which comprises the chairs of all of parliament’s select committees. It is looking into the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system.
Select committees perform a vital role in holding government to account, scrutinising legislation and providing a forum to explore policy issues in a cross-party setting.
They mainly operate by holding inquiries into specific issues, inviting written submissions and hearing oral evidence from witnesses who are expert or experienced in the issues before the inquiry. Read more
It’s hard to ignore the findings and recommendations of the hard-hitting global assessment of nature led by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Its stark finding is that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. Read more
A cross-party group of MPs has called for the draft Environment Bill to be strengthened. The Environmental Audit Committee’s report follows its inquiry into the draft Environment Bill published in December. The committee doesn’t pull its punches and demands urgent action to plug gaps in environmental protection. Read more
Yesterday, the government published draft clauses which will form the backbone of the first environment bill for twenty years. This is, without doubt, a historic moment and a chance for the government to deliver its commitment to leave the environment in a better state for future generations. Read more
This blog was first published by Business Green.
On 6 November, the Environmental Audit Committee published the government’s response to its report into the 25 year environment plan and Defra’s consultation from earlier this year on environmental principles and governance. Read more
Something quite momentous happened on 18 July. The prime minister announced the first dedicated environment bill for over twenty years. Have no doubt that this is as major a policy announcement as they come, although it might easily have been missed as it was tucked away in an answer to a question on air quality when Theresa May was grilled by select committee chairs on their subject areas. Luckily this tweet sealed the deal and the announcement is now common knowledge and an important platform from which to build.