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.Read more
From 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.
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
In 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
“We are living in an unusual time, a time of real social history – history that you will be able to tell your children about…. The History department would like you to keep a diary of your experiences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” Read more
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
In Saturday’s Financial Times the chancellor, Sajid Javid, made it clear that the UK is going to diverge from EU rules: “There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year.” Read more
After over two years of uncertainty and growing political paralysis, we have a government with a clear mandate “to get Brexit done so that we can get on with… the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”. So what can environmentalists hope to see? Read more
Theresa May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement guaranteed that environmental standards would not fall below their current level (“non-regression”). That guarantee has gone from the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson. Read more
This 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