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
A month into the new government and the prospects for the environment look increasingly grim.
It is not just that a no deal Brexit now seems probable, though that is bad enough. Crashing out of the EU carries great dangers for air pollution and loss of countryside as lorries queue around our major ports. Its impact on farming could be devastating. Read more
We will have a new prime minister on Wednesday, almost certainly Boris Johnson, and new ministers by the end of the week. What should the environmental sector hope for? Read more
“We are facing an unprecedented global emergency… we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.”
“Our house is on fire…. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
“Winning slowly is the same as losing.”
“To pursue never-ending economic growth – or even to keep things ticking along as they are – is to gamble with the fate of humanity. We need nothing short of a transformation of the way we live our lives.”
Statements like these, from Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, Bill McKibben and Caroline Lucas, might once have been dismissed as scaremongering. Increasingly, as the evidence of climate and ecological breakdown piles up, they are being heard as the sober truth. Read more