Category Archives: Political leadership

The green watchdog is a sound investment for our future

1200px-Durdle_Door_Overview.jpgThis post is by Tom West, ClientEarth’s law and policy advisor.

A major lesson from ClientEarth’s air quality challenges is that we cannot always rely on the government’s promises to meet its legal obligations.

It wasn’t that long ago that the UK was known as the ‘dirty man of Europe’ for causing acid rain across the continent, dumping sewage straight into the sea and failing to control pollution from large power stations, cars and industry.

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Why we need an environment and climate watchdog

drought.pngThis blog was first published by Business Green.

The unprecedented, prolonged heatwave that Britain and much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing seems to have brought climate change, albeit temporarily, to the forefront of our public and political discourse. A timely report from the Environmental Audit Committee has warned there will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050, triple today’s rate, if we do not take further action. Former energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd penned a Times op-ed stating climate change is here and rising global temperatures are already baked in. But the thrust of her argument was that a madcap approach to Brexit could unravel Britain’s ambitious climate goals. Addressing climate change, she said, requires “co-operation, shared sovereignty and internationalism.”

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Leaving the EU will surrender our sovereignty

union jack flag and big ben in the background, London, UK - general elections, London, UKThis post is by Andrew Adonis and is based on his book Saving Britain: how we must change to prosper in Europe, co-authored with Will Hutton.

Brexit is the antithesis of the Conservative Party’s pro-European tradition, exemplified by Churchill’s post-war commitment to a united Europe, Heath’s passion for taking Britain into the Common Market and, indeed, Mrs Thatcher’s early enthusiasm for the single market. Brexiters pretend that once outside the EU, the world becomes an economic Eden raining down free fruit. There are no hard decisions or trade-offs. Britain, long thwarted by its dalliance with the EU, can freely gorge. This is cynical dishonesty based on willful ignorance. It is time to get real. Read more

A new Environment Bill is momentous; the hard work begins now

Eurasian OtterSomething 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.

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What is the future of environmental governance in Northern Ireland?

northern ireland.jpgThis post is by Ciara Brennan, Mary Dobbs, Viviane Gravey and Attracta Uí Bhroin, authors of  a recent report on what Brexit means for Northern Ireland environmental governance.

The influence of EU membership on environmental governance in Northern Ireland has been profound. Now Brexit raises the very real possibility of major environmental governance gaps right across the UK. A risk which is exacerbated in Northern Ireland where environmental decision making and the implementation of environmental law is notoriously problematic.

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The Brexit white paper and the environment: a positive shift in language but big risks are still there

EU UK Big ben.jpgThis blog was written by Stephen Hinchley, principal policy officer at the RSPB.

Environmentalists in the UK and the EU now have something to work with following the government’s proposals, published in a white paper yesterday, to include environmental co-operation in the UK’s future partnership agreement with the EU.

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Could fines be the green watchdog’s sharpest teeth?

watchdog.jpgThis post is by Andy Jordan and Brendan Moore, who are respectively the co-chair and manager of the Brexit&Environment academic network.

The EU Withdrawal Bill has finally received Royal Assent. Around 200 hours were spent debating it. These discussions clarified some aspects of governance post-Brexit, but left many others open, chiefly those around the enforcement powers of the proposed green watchdog.

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The growing danger of a no deal Brexit

Europe849x566.JPGCould the UK leave the European Union in March next year without a deal? For all the talk of ‘no deal being better than a bad deal’, the suggestion seems absurd. No deal would be a disaster for both sides in the negotiations. Britain would crash out of the EU without a transition period, plunging the whole continent into recession. Surely no rational government would go there? Surely sensible people will agree, in the end, to do sensible things, and there will be some great, last minute Euro-compromise?

Well, maybe. But governments do not always behave rationally. Read more

What would a climate compatible Heathrow look like?

Heathrow plane_Charlie_FlickrWe have always known that aviation will be a hard nut to crack in tackling climate change. Digital technology was expected to bring people closer virtually but has had no impact on mitigating air travel which has continued to grow over the past decade. Meanwhile, the aviation industry has felt itself exempt from climate policy, a feeling which must have been emphasised by the limited role that climate considerations played in this week’s decision to expand Heathrow. Read more

A Brexit deal fit for farming and the environment

This post has been jointly written by Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, and Shaun Spiers, executive director of Green Alliance and chair of Greener UK. A letter based on this piece appeared in The Sunday Times.

For better or worse, over the last forty five years the EU has played an unarguably important role in the way we manage our landscape, firstly through the Common Agricultural Policy and latterly through the Single Market’s role in environmental regulation. Now, as we prepare to leave, questions about how we continue to manage our countryside are stimulating an important, and sometimes controversial, debate.

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