There’s a reality gap in the government’s promise to protect 30 per cent of land for nature

This post is by Kate Jennings, head of sites and species policy at the RSPB.

A new peer reviewed paper, published today, looking at the state of protected areas across the UK concludes that, instead of the 28 per cent claimed by the UK government, as little as 11.9 per cent of the UK’s land area is protected for nature, and that less than half of that may be effectively protected for nature. In 2022, governments from around the world will come together to commit to a new set of global targets for nature under the Convention on Biological Diversity. True to its stated appetite to be a “world leader for nature” the UK has already committed to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and to protect 30 per cent of land and sea for nature’s recovery by 2030 (‘30 by 30’), a target that is set to feature in the new global agreement.

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Why we need to talk about floodplains

This post is by Stewart Clarke, national specialist of freshwater, catchments & estuaries at the National Trust.

Whether it’s floods or drought, water is on the frontline of the climate crisis. This summer’s huge floods in Germany and Belgium, followed days later by those in central China once again prompted debate about managing floods and development in the floodplain. Whilst everyone seems to acknowledge the folly of building on floodplains, it still seems to happen, and we cannot avoid the fact that we already have lots of homes and infrastructure in these high risk places. So, while we must stop this type of development, we must also think carefully about how we use the remaining undeveloped parts of floodplain. In short, we need to think about floodplains in the UK differently.

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The government should ignore the backbench sceptics and get on with its transport decarbonisation plan

This post is by Greg Archer, UK director of Transport & Environment.

The UK government’s recently announced transport decarbonisation plan is unquestionably a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. First, the good. Proposals to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) are world leading and an excellent basis from which to achieve only zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. The bad was the failure to address aviation and shipping emissions, with unfounded optimism that international agreements and technology will deliver the required transformation. And the ugly was the departure, in public statements made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, from the clear messages in the plan that less vehicle use would be necessary and good for society. Instead, he danced to the populist tune that the car shall remain king, albeit electric. Critics may question if he really believed what he was proposing.

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Does the government’s innovation strategy draw the right lessons from COVID?

This post is by Will McDowall, associate professor in eco-innovation at UCL’s Energy Institute and Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Climate change is the single biggest transformative challenge of our time, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the government’s Innovation Strategy, published in July. Despite its repeated name checking of ‘net zero’, the strategy is a missed opportunity for zero carbon innovation.

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How to fix biodiversity net gain so it delivers for nature

This post is by Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England.

We are in a nature and climate emergency. Nature is in freefall and desperately needs new and stronger mechanisms to halt and reverse its decline. For too long, new housing and infrastructure development has been one of the causes of nature’s decline. The RSPB has welcomed the government’s ambition that all new development should leave nature in a better state, because it’s vital that it does.

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Olympic champions in Tokyo, let’s be climate champions in Glasgow

This post is by Robbie MacPherson, environment APPG coordinator and political adviser at Green Alliance.

This week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) reconfirmed what we already knew; that climate change is the most serious challenge of our time and that human behaviour has contributed to a warming planet. The IPCC Report was also clear that runaway global heating is inevitable without rapid, largescale emissions reductions this decade. Whether they like it or not, the report signals a clear message to decision makers in the UK and internationally: now is the time to go ‘faster, higher and stronger’ in our efforts to tackle climate change.

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The government’s green trade report recognises the environmental challenge

This post is by Dr Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, director of the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS) and senior research associate at the University of Oxford’s Global Economic Governance Programme.

The recent Green Trade report from the UK Board of Trade marks an important step in the development of the UK’s approach to international trade as it recognises the critical relevance of trade and trade policies to the big environmental challenges of our time.

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As working patterns change is it time to rethink public transport priorities?

This blog is by Anna Johnston research and policy officer at the Women’s Budget Group.

Buses, trains, tubes, cycle lanes and roads are once again filling up. Whilst we’re all reconnecting with the world around us, there will be few that are clamouring to resume the busy, loud, often sweaty and anger inducing daily commute. Yet, potentially permanent changes to working patterns beg the questions: does the standard commute exist anymore and could this be a pivotal moment to rethink transport?

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Funding the green transition need not be as hard as the government thinks

This post is by Colin Hines, convenor of the UK Green New Deal Group.

The US and Canada heat dome, Siberian forest fires, devastating floods in Germany and surrounding countries, and the truly grim fact that the Amazon is now a carbon emitter rather than a sink, have resulted in a new sense of urgency from alarmed scientists and political leaders about the need to act urgently on the climate and biodiversity crises.

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