Author Archives: Shaun Spiers

What history tells us about how we are dealing with climate change

To make climate change real to people, a first order priority rather than an afterthought, we need to tell stories, stories about what is already happening and stories about what will happen as temperatures continue to rise. But for some people, telling the story of what happened in the past when temperatures changed by just a couple of degrees Celsius will do the trick.    

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Time to settle the question: how green a Brexit will we get?

INTEXT-westminsterFrom the start of next year, the UK will no longer be bound by European Union laws or subject to the European Court of Justice. We will leave the single market and the customs union; replace the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy with national policies; and cease to be a member of the European Chemicals Agency.

The UK has already left the EU, but only when the transition period ends will we really be on our own. How are we doing? Will it be the green Brexit promised by ministers? Read more

A credible planning system has to be serious about the environment

Having engaged with successive planning reforms during my time as chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), there is something comfortingly familiar about the white paper just published by the government. Many of the reforms I encountered in my first eight years in the job were swept away in 2012, when the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced. Read more

The shovels are ready but are we digging ourselves deeper into trouble?

boris in hard hatIn his memoirs, Tony Blair is scathing about environmental NGOs: “Because their entire raison d’etre is to get policy changed, they can hardly say yes, we’ve done it, putting themselves out of business…. Balance is not in their vocabulary. It’s all ‘outrage’, ‘betrayal’, ‘crisis’.” Ed Balls expressed similar concerns to the Institute for Government in 2016. Green NGOs, he said, “were very sceptical about government. They found it very hard to support and push.” Rather than opening up space for the government to move into, they killed off good plans because they were not perfect. Read more

The government needs to shift gear fast to make COP26 a success

~ai-0c4adc82-9be6-46bf-9261-4cabaca6eff5_The COP26 UN climate conference opens in Glasgow in just under nine months’ time. That really is not much time, and the conference matters deeply. In a relatively trivial sense, it matters to the UK’s reputation. More seriously, it matters to the planet: the world is on a path to catastrophic global heating and COP26 is conceivably our best chance to get it under control. Read more

Under our new government, environmental progress has ground to a halt

brick wall squareThis blog was first posted on Business Green. 

The new government’s energy is devoted either to preparing for – even willing on – a disastrous no deal Brexit or to election planning. It has little left for environmental ambition and its record compares badly with that of Theresa May’s government in the weeks following the 2017 election. Ministers have been relatively silent and inaccessible. They are not responsible for the fact that key Bills have stalled, but they have given little indication that they will fight to secure major improvements to environment and farming policy. Read more

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