There’s no political pressure to act on climate. So how are MPs responding?

Tewkesbury flood flickr cc_ Cheltenham Borough CouncilScientists are clear that urgent action is needed on climate. At the Paris Summit in 2015, world leaders agreed to limit rises in global temperatures. And yet climate change barely troubles domestic politics. Since then, I’ve interviewed over 20 members of the UK parliament, and one message has emerged with striking clarity: the electorate are not asking their representatives to act. Read more

The Lords debates show the extent of concern about the Withdrawal Bill

Early morning London:  Houses of Parliament and Big BenAt the end of January the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was the subject of a record-breaking debate in the House of Lords. One hundred and ninety peers spoke at the bill’s second reading, including several members of the expert Constitution Committee, which concluded that “the Bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty in this country”. There was also widespread concern about the ability of parliament to hold the government to account, the loss of the charter of fundamental rights and the implications for devolution. Read more

Will degradable plastics really prevent marine pollution?

In our world of instant gratification, plastic has proved incredibly useful, allowing food and drink to be conveniently packaged and transported for consumption on the go, immediately satisfying our most basic of human needs. Unfortunately, if it is not handled correctly after its brief use, plastic can cause serious environmental problems, as hauntingly documented by Blue Planet II. People are rightly concerned about the pollution accumulating in our seas, and they want an immediate solution.

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Why increasing young people’s access to nature makes electoral sense

tree-nature-forest-grass-person-girl-1350598-pxhere.comIt isn’t often that government is presented with an opportunity to seduce environmentalists, young people and mental health campaigners in one fell swoop. It’s even more unheard of that they could do it cheaply. So it’s no surprise that the evidence linking access to nature with positive mental health outcomes is gaining currency among policy makers. But to exploit this opportunity, the government will need to do more than it has so far promised in its new 25 year environment plan. Read more

The three basic things you should know about trade

Dr_Liam_Fox_MP,_Shadow_Defence_Secretary_(4475796143)_Chatham HouseTo coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, earlier this week the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox extolled the benefits of free and fair trade and set out how those principles were informing his department’s trade strategy.  In contrast to President Trump, Dr Fox looks at the world as a source of trading opportunities, not threats, and is fond of quoting the IMF forecast that 90 per cent of world growth over the next ten to 15 years will come from outside continental Europe. Read more

Will we get a Trade Bill fit for the environment?

containers Michael Gaida CCThis post is by Matthew Stanton (@MStantonUK), lawyer at WWF-UK, and Ali Plummer, senior policy officer on Brexit at RSPB. They are both representatives of the Greener UK coalition.

The government’s recently released 25 year environment plan says it is a “comprehensive and long term approach to protecting and enhancing our natural habitats and landscapes in England for the next generation”. But, to be truly comprehensive, the plan must, of course, go beyond Defra and be owned across government departments and bodies, with all taking a responsibility for its delivery and achievements. For instance, the UK’s new external trade policy presents a tremendous opportunity for the UK to lead the way in promoting sustainable trade. Read more

How accountable will the government really be on the environment after Brexit?

2700549757_978a5e7bc1_bThis post is by Lewis Lloyd of the Institute for Government.

The government has promised to end the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the UK after Brexit, renouncing the oversight of the European Commission and the court as part of ‘taking back control’. But it is unclear how far the UK’s domestic governance structures will replicate the robustness of the EU institutions. The Institute for Government’s report, Who’s afraid of the ECJ?, indicates that the environment will be an area where the change is most marked. Read more

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