This post is by Donal McCarthy, senior policy officer at the RSPB and co-ordinator of the Greener UK ‘Brexit and Devolution’ working group.
From the coverage surrounding the launch of the UK government’s long awaited 25 year environment plan last week, one could easily have been forgiven for thinking it set out a long term strategy for restoring nature across the four UK nations. In fact, most of its proposals will only apply to England and, to a more limited extent, the UK Overseas Territories.
No vision for collaboration between UK nations
Since the late 90s, most areas of environmental policy have been devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As such, the new plan largely focuses on those aspects of environmental policy reserved to the UK government. Read more
Tomorrow, Theresa May will deliver a major speech on the environment, it will be the first keynote environment speech delivered by a British prime minister since Tony Blair did so in 2000. David Cameron might have hugged huskies in the Arctic but, in practice, the environment as a whole was not a top priority for him (although he did address the UN on climate and gave a small speech on energy efficiency). Blair also delivered a major speech specifically on climate in 2004.
This post is by Tom Lancaster, senior policy officer at the RSPB, and Marcus Gilleard, senior policy programme manager at the National Trust.
For a couple of policy wonks on the Brexit front line, perspective can be hard to come by at times. So we’ve taken a few days to digest Michael Gove’s speech at last week’s Oxford Farming Conference and assess where it leaves us in our quest for a more sustainable farming and land management system.
New Year articles and blogs often predict what is going to happen in the year ahead. But after the political upsets of the past couple years, it seems more appropriate to pose questions than predict outcomes. So here are some of the important questions that need addressing this year, starting, inevitably, with Brexit.
As we entered 2017, the UK was on edge, with the government’s plans for Brexit unclear, and the environmental dimensions of that even more so. While much remains at risk as the year draws to a close, prospects for our environment look brighter than they did 12 months ago.
This post is by former MEP Michael Hindley. He is now trade policy adviser to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Consideration of the UK’s trading relations post Brexit has brought trade policy issues into the spotlight, and particularly trade policy formation, as never before.
This post is by Andy Jordan, Charlie Burns and Viviane Gravey, co-chairs of the ESRC funded Brexit & Environment network.
The EU has mostly exerted its influence through the medium of law and policy. For many non-experts, 29 March 2017 (when Article 50 was triggered) was the day when the risk that large parts of the UK’s environment could lose their legislative protections suddenly became very real indeed.
Should we worry that the UK will crash out of the EU without a deal and in an atmosphere of acrimony and ill will? That was the question I recently asked Sir Ivan Rogers at his inaugural Henry Plumb Lecture for the National Farmers’ Union. His answer was not reassuring. The risk, he said, was “still quite high”. In January, Sir Ivan was forced to resign as the UK’s permanent representative to the EU for his unwelcome prediction that the Brexit negotiations would prove much more difficult than most people thought. His concerns have been vindicated and he is worth listening to. Read more
In British politics, governing is as much performance art as it is accounting. Even ‘Fiscal Phil’, that most studious scrutiniser of the spreadsheet knows this. Perhaps this is why his green headlines ahead of the budget were about a single use plastics tax, a clampdown on dirty diesels and a push on EVs. These followed a green October, with Michael Gove ditching neonicotinoids and consulting on a bottle deposit scheme, and Claire Perry producing a Clean Growth Strategy that sees huge opportunities too irresistible for a business department to ignore. But the big reveal on budget day showed that, as far as the Treasury is concerned, the future is still grey.
“Could you elaborate on how women can access the respective climate funds that your organisations manage?” It was a straightforward question from a Togolese woman after a panel discussion on climate finance for small island developing states, hosted on the sidelines of last week’s UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn. The all-male panel, consisting of representatives of finance organisations and international development ministries, wasn’t able to answer. Instead, they collectively resorted to awkward laughter and some head shaking. After being pressured by the, also male, moderator, one of the panellists muttered a soft “no…”, while the others looked away.