Category Archives: Political leadership

Five very real risks to our environment from Brexit and how to tackle them

Children on BeachThere has been little mention of the environment in the government’s Brexit priorities so far, so it may come as a surprise to hear that an estimated four fifths of all our environmental protections are covered by EU law. As the Westminster government heads towards triggering Article 50 this week, to be closely followed by the repeal bill which will transpose EU law into domestic law, what are the potential risks to our environmental protections?

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The government should publish its environment plans without further delay

traffic, light, london, UKThis post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.

The government has published its Industrial Strategy, its Housing White Paper and its Digital Plan, but three flagship environmental promises remain mired in Whitehall wrangling: the 25 year environment plan, the 25 year food and farming plan and the clean growth plan are all delayed. Read more

Brexit or not, Britain will still be a global pioneer on the environment

5860924394_6fe437582a_oThis post is by Andrew Sells, chairman of Natural England, and is a response to the recent post by Lord Chris Smith

I very much welcome Lord (Chris) Smith’s return to the environmental fray in his recent blog. He knows better than most the politics of the environment and the delicate relationship between central government and public bodies. Read more

As we leave the EU we must plan for nature’s recovery

1031572This post is by Ali Plummer, wildlife law campaigner at The Wildlife Trusts.

Over the coming months and years, as the UK government begins the task of negotiating exit from the European Union, we have a rare and historical moment to ask ourselves – what kind of country do we want to live in?  As the negotiations continue, there is the risk that these questions become lost in the seemingly abstract and inaccessible language of trade and commerce, and the moment is lost. But there is a way to recapture the moment: through considering our natural environment, whose fate – and by extension ours – is very much entwined with the future of our relationship with the EU. Read more

How to keep up UK leadership on clean energy and climate after Brexit

21922973089_14ba3e7815_kThis post is by Jonathan Gaventa, director of E3G.

The UK has made significant progress in clean energy and emissions reductions in recent years, with greenhouse gas emissions now 38 per cent below 1990 levels. But Brexit raises questions about how this progress will be continued.

In principle, it should be both possible and desirable for the UK to emerge from the Brexit process with just as strong a position on climate and clean energy as before.

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Solutions to air pollution have to work for everyone

transport_blogThis post is by Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich and West Norwood.

It’s estimated that toxic air pollution from diesel vehicles in London is responsible for over 9,000 premature deaths a year, and it disproportionately affects school children and the most vulnerable members of our communities. Brixton Road, in my constituency, exceeded its annual air pollution limit just five days into 2017. The Mayor of London has made the battle against this invisible killer a top priority for his term and has succeeded in getting it onto both the national and local political agendas. Read more

We must tell the truth to safeguard the environment

7220178646_40acaa8401_kThis post is by Lord Chris Smith, who was chair of the Environment Agency from 2008-14.

One of the most distressing things about the prospect of Brexit is the impact it could have on the range of environmental protections we currently have in Britain. Virtually every piece of safeguarding we have – of habitats, sea water and rivers, of air quality and against polluting emissions, of agricultural quality and cross boundary impacts – derives from European directives and common European policy. Many of these are already enshrined in UK law, of course, and the so-called Great Repeal Bill that will supposedly transpose everything into domestic legislation will, perhaps at the outset, ensure this.

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Is the Supreme Court decision good for the environment?

London Supreme CourtThis post is by Viviane Gravey, lecturer in European Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. She recently co-led an expert review of the environmental implications of Brexit, funded by the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative.

The result is in: the Supreme Court has ruled that the government needs parliamentary approval, through legislation, to trigger Article 50 and start the Brexit negotiations. The Supreme Court’s judgement further found that the government need not consult the devolved administrations. The judgement is thus the least surprising of all options: in the end, the Supreme Court simply confirmed the two November rulings: the government’s loss regarding parliamentary approval in front of the High Court in London and its win regarding devolution in front of the High Court in Belfast.

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The bad and the good news: climate change under Donald Trump

8739510627_72e56a9e93_kThis post is by Vrinda Manglik, campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy campaign

Eight years ago, and again four years later, I stood on the US National Mall in the bitter cold to watch Barack Obama get sworn in for his respective first and second terms as president. Particularly at the dawn of his first term, the mood among progressives was one of joy, excitement and, yes, hope. To our great disappointment, his first term brought crushing setbacks on climate change: a failed climate bill in Congress and the collapse of the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. Read more

Why is the environment missing from the Brexit plan?

31557196953_808dd5d658_bThe prime minister has laid out her “comprehensive and carefully considered” Brexit plan pledging to bring as much certainty and clarity to each stage of the Brexit process as possible. It was perplexing, then, that the environment was not mentioned once during her 45 minute speech. Significant questions remain about the future of the UK’s environmental protections and how we will work with allies abroad to build a healthier and safer world. Today, most of the UK’s environmental law and policy is based on EU law, so its absence from Theresa May’s speech leaves the Brexit plan falling short of its comprehensive objective.

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