This post also appears on the National Trust’s blog.
George Monbiot today wrote an excellent twitter thread criticising the ‘cold and alienating’ language we routinely use when talking about ‘the environment’. He specifically calls out a term we have been using at Green Alliance for several years: ‘Natural Infrastructure Schemes’. Monbiot argues that phrases like ‘our shared home’, ‘climate chaos’ and ‘wildlife’ should replace ‘the environment’, ‘climate change’ and ‘biodiversity’. Read more
Tomorrow, Theresa May will deliver a major speech on the environment, it will be the first keynote environment speech delivered by a British prime minister since Tony Blair did so in 2000. David Cameron might have hugged huskies in the Arctic but, in practice, the environment as a whole was not a top priority for him (although he did address the UN on climate and gave a small speech on energy efficiency). Blair also delivered a major speech specifically on climate in 2004.
Following the election, Brexit, hard or soft, looks much more difficult. Among many other complications, the hung parliament will make it harder to agree the Great Repeal Bill. The purpose of the election (for the Daily Mail, at least) was to “crush the saboteurs”, ie anyone raising objections to the hardest of hard Brexits. Now the bill will be subject to intense scrutiny and possible amendment. Party political calculation and intra-party factionalism will have full rein. Read more
Next Tuesday for the first time in this election campaign, the public will get the chance to put questions directly to the major parties on their ambitions and aims for the environment in the next parliament at the Greener UK Hustings.
The debate will include issues like air quality and pollution, nature protection, international leadership, farming and fisheries, climate change and, perhaps most pertinently, what the UK’s exit from the EU will mean for all of the above. Read more
This post is by Matthew Spencer, former director of Green Alliance and now Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy.
Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain the UK’s 0.7 per cent overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week, the government had to be forced to publish its plan to reduce air pollution by a judge so fed up with its delaying tactics that he instructed ministers to ignore election purdah rules. The first decision helps people who live thousands of miles away, the other obstructs action to address something proven to be killing British voters. It should, therefore, be easier to get political leadership on environmental health than on international development, but the reverse appears to be true. Why? Read more
This 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
This 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.
This 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.
This post is by Green Alliance’s chair, Dame Fiona Reynolds.
For the many people who care about the beauty of our countryside and the natural environment, this is the big question of our time. We know the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been a net negative for the environment, yet we also know that the majority of the UK’s rural landscapes will continue to be farmed. So now is the time to get some anchors in the ground about what should be the principles underpinning a new farming and food production policy, even if it’s too early to put the details in place. Read more
The 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.