In reaction to the Environment Secretary’s speech on nature, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see a strong commitment today from Government on nature, highlighting the importance of biodiversity, peatlands and trees in delivering on our net zero target. To support net zero and tackle the biodiversity crisis, it will be important to see further improvements to the Environment Bill. In addition to the new species target, the Bill must be strengthened by legally binding interim targets and clearer links between environmental improvement plans and long-term targets. Finally, to realise the vision of the Dasgupta Review, Government needs to champion this agenda and its formal response needs to set out a clear action plan that details next steps for Government, business and civil society.”
In response to the publication of the UK Government’s COP26 strategy, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The UK is right to place a strong emphasis on delivering the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement and send a clear message on phasing out the use of coal globally. This approach is clearly supported by science and countries should aim for more ambition, not less, ahead of this important summit. Plans to push for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2040 globally and radically increasing international finance to deliver on climate initiatives are also vital.”
Nick Molho added: “However, recent analysis from the International Energy Agency tells us that many parts of the world are pursuing economic stimulus investments that are taking us away from the 1.5 degree goal. To close the gap, it is essential that the UK presidency continues its diplomatic efforts to secure increased climate commitments from the world’s key emitters and a global commitment to pursue and co-operate on delivering a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Nick Molho concluded: “The confirmation that COP26 will be held in person sends a strong signal for international diplomatic negotiations in the months ahead. Particular areas of focus for negotiations must include finalising a rule book for a credible global carbon trading system under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement as well as delivering on today’s commitment to provide climate finance support for developing economies, which are often disproportionately impacted by the growing impacts from climate change. The UK can also strengthen its influence globally by publishing a detailed net zero delivery strategy well ahead of COP26, in a way that provides a clear policy plan for UK businesses and serves as a credible exemplar for other major economies to follow.”
Following today’s State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech, the Aldersgate Group calls on Government to embed climate and environmental considerations at the heart of the levelling up agenda.
Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “The Queen’s Speech clearly set out the importance of delivering a national recovery from the pandemic and spreading economic opportunities across the country. Climate and environmental objectives are central to generating the geographically disperse investment and job creation the UK needs, and they should therefore be embedded at the heart of the Government’s legislative and policy programme.
“The first step must be to urgently bring forward the Environment Bill to progress vital amendments that will strengthen the Bill and allow for robust delivery of environmental targets. These include making interim targets binding and enhancing the linkages between the forthcoming environmental improvement plans and long-term targets. It is also crucial that the changes to procurement and planning policy announced today are consistent with and actively support the UK’s climate and environmental goals.”
Nick Molho added: “Alongside its legislative programme, it is critical that the Government further develops credible policy programmes to deliver on its net zero ambition in this parliamentary session. The highly-anticipated net zero strategy and Treasury’s net zero review must, together, provide a clear policy and funding plan to achieve net zero emissions and maximise opportunities for the economy in so doing.”
Nick Molho concluded: “Plans to spark a skills ‘revolution’ unveiled in the speech must prioritise delivery of a low carbon workforce that can drive the net zero transition. Government should carefully consider the upcoming recommendations from the Green Jobs Taskforce to prevent the supply chain issues that hindered the rollout of the Green Homes Grant.”
Ahead of State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 11 May, the Aldersgate Group calls on Government to place the Environment Bill at the top of its legislative programme. Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “The Environment Bill must return to Parliament at pace to ensure that the UK establishes an ambitious environmental governance regime which will help reverse the decline of the natural environment. The Bill itself should also be strengthened through the introduction of binding interim targets that ensure continuous action to improve nature, the inclusion of an overarching target which helps guide long-term targets, and guarantees to safeguard the Office for Environmental Protection’s independence.”
Nick Molho added: “Climate and environmental objectives should also be embedded in the Government’s levelling up agenda to ensure that areas such as planning and public procurement contribute towards the UK’s ambitious targets. Incorporating these issues as a core part of the Government’s legislative agenda will help boost economic opportunities across the country and create jobs.”
Nick Molho concluded: “A clear funding strategy from Treasury and a policy programme focused on delivering the UK’s net zero target must also be priorities in the forthcoming parliamentary session. The highly anticipated net zero strategy needs to set out a detailed cross-sector plan across all government departments of what measures will be required in the near future. It must provide a sector-by-sector analysis and ensure that the Government’s economic and industrial policy, as well as its infrastructure spending decisions, are all fully aligned with this target.”