The people have spoken: they want a fairer, greener country

This post is by Joshua Emden, research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

If you put people at the heart of efforts to solve the climate and nature crises, then opportunity abounds. This is the core message presented by the final report of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission, Fairness and Opportunity.

But this didn’t just come from think tank policy researchers. Rather, it’s a message of hope and warning from people across the country whose lives will inevitably be affected both by the climate crisis itself and the policy responses to it.

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It’s time the government took metro mayors seriously as partners in meeting national climate goals

This post was first published in London Government Chronicle.

Since their introduction in the mid-2010s, it is fair to say that metro mayors have never enjoyed greater public and political visibility than they do currently after a series of recent political dramas. These include Andy Burnham’s spectacular showdown with Number 10 over compensation for three tier restrictions, Tracy Brabin’s victory in becoming the first mayor of West Yorkshire, triggering a hard fought by-election in her former seat of Batley and Spen, and the prime minister seemingly forgetting the name of the then sitting Conservative mayor of West England, Tim Bowles. Together with the day-to-day management of the regional pandemic response, these moments have demonstrated the capability of metro mayors, as well as their potency in influencing Westminster politics. 

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The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is a good start, but more is needed to make transport genuinely green

Last week, the government published its strategy for a greener transport system, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which has been welcomed for new policies on electric vehicles and a significant positive shift in tone around cycling, walking and public transport. While it also recognises the many benefits that come from making transport greener – healthier lifestyles, savings for consumers and hundreds of thousands of new jobs – what will this plan actually change?

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Without a plan there won’t be enough energy for low carbon transport by 2050

This post is by Dr Philippa Horton, business manager for the UK FIRES programme.

Whilst the transport sector is taking on the task to decarbonise, there is an even bigger challenge ahead around the energy needed to do it. There simply won’t be enough zero carbon energy to meet the projected demand for green transport in 2050. Plans to deliver transport services with zero emission fuels will not be enough on their own, a new focus on energy efficiency is required to make sure it can happen.  

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Four important messages from the National Food Strategy about how we can ‘have it all’

Right now, the UK food system as a whole is bad for our health, bad for nature and the climate and, on top that, it is not even offering an economically sustainable livelihood for most farmers. The National Food Strategy, out today, sets out an integrated plan for how we can turn these problems around. Its insights on farming and land use are particularly exciting because they show how we can ‘have it all’: healthy food, as well as restored nature, carbon sinks and sustainable farm businesses.

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Southern Water and sewage: how do we stop big business just going through the motions?

One of the things that has cheered me in recent years has been the signs that big business has started to take environmental action seriously and show real leadership in addressing the environmental crisis. I like to think that this is not only because environmental destruction has become a material risk to their business model, but also because they are run by people, who like the rest of us, appreciate that we need a habitable planet to live on. This includes being able to swim, as I do, in the English Channel without getting ill.

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With or without a meat tax, a new vision for livestock farming is needed

Have you stopped eating meat for some meals or started a plant-based diet? If so, you are part of a growing trend. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of the forthcoming National Food Strategy included the suggestion that a meat tax might be needed in the future to help it along, to cut UK carbon emissions and improve people’s health. Meat taxes have been proposed before, and were rejected by the prime minister. But other developments are already driving changes in our diets. One way or another we will be eating less meat in future and a new vision for an economically and environmentally sustainable livestock sector is needed.

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We need the power to help our chalk streams recover

This post is by Charles Rangeley-Wilson, author, conservationist and chair of the CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Group.

In the post-war years, the immense bodies of filtered rainwater held within the chalk aquifers must have seemed like manna from heaven, providing easy, high quality water to a growing population and the south east’s burgeoning industry and agriculture. A very few far sighted commentators predicted the environmental damage that would result from over use of this resource, but not enough to turn the tide. Consequently, abstraction of chalk aquifers grew and grew towards a late 1980s peak when, in some catchments in drier years, we were taking more water out of the valleys than fell from the sky into them. Even when rainfall was good, unsustainable volumes of water were taken and our precious chalk streams dried up.

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