With the next UK General Election just eight months away, now is the time for political parties to set out their ambitions for the environment during the next Parliament.
Today, along with nine other leading environmental groups, we’re launching Greener Britain, our blueprint for a greener, fairer, better Britain in a more sustainable world.
The environment matters. It matters in its own right – wildlife-rich rainforests, thriving populations of tigers, elephants and rhinos and seas full of marine life are intrinsically good things. But it also matters to people. Climate change is hitting the poorest people across the world hardest. Over-fishing threatens the livelihoods of coastal communities around the globe. And, here in the UK, the environment matters to the many millions of people who are members and supporters of WWF and similar organisations. So it should matter to the politicians who seek to represent us too.
That’s why we’ve come together with many of those groups – from the National Trust to Greenpeace, Green Alliance to the RSPB – to launch Greener Britain, a set of practical but ambitious proposals for political parties now thinking about the programmes they’ll present to us, the electorate, next year.
Our proposals cover a wide range of areas. For now, I’ll highlight just two hugely important issues
- Leading the transition to a low carbon economy and
- Protecting the oceans
At the end of next year, world leaders will gather in Paris for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 21. The name may not have been designed to engage us, but this is a critical opportunity for the countries of the world to reach a new agreement on a global deal to tackle climate change. And two of the countries that have often been the biggest stumbling-blocks to such an agreement, the US and China, are involved this time in a much more positive way than before.
So this is a crucial opportunity, but to make the most of it we need the next UK Government to lead from the front. That means Britain pushing for the most ambitious possible package of energy and climate change proposals from the EU. But it also means the most senior representatives of the Government – including the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary – making clear, in speeches, meetings and in all international discussions, that achieving an ambitious global deal is a top foreign policy priority for the UK.
Britain is also uniquely placed to play a global leadership role in safeguarding the world’s oceans – in the South Atlantic, Antarctica, the Arctic and close to home – by putting in place comprehensive and enforceable protection.
With responsibility for 14 wildlife-rich Overseas Territories, we can establish an additional million square kilometers of protected ocean in the South Atlantic, forming two mega protected areas ranging from the tropics to the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica and the Arctic
In the Antarctic, the next government should continue to enhance marine protection by helping to ensure that all fisheries are sustainable and that illegal fishing is eliminated from the region.
At the same time, we should champion a network of protected areas across the Arctic Ocean, including the international waters around the North Pole, and promote the highest possible environmental standards for British companies operating in the region.
Closer to home
And close to home, the Government must complete the work of creating an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas in British seas. Britain’s sea-life is hugely rich, but it needs to be better protected and allowed to flourish. Completing this network would fulfil the pledges that all parties made when they supported the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009.
We believe these are the right proposals for a greener Britain. We also think they would be popular, and good for the economy and for society as well as the environment. Do our political leaders have the vision to make them a reality?
What do you think about Greener Britain? Leave us a comment.