Leading environmental groups challenge politicians to build a greener Britain

Press release, 1 September 2014
Alastair Harper Alastair HarperHead of politics020 7630 4527aharper@green-alliance.org.uk
A coalition of the UK’s leading environmental groups, including the National Trust, WWF, RSPB, Greenpeace, The Wildlife Trusts and Friends of the Earth, are today calling for all political parties to commit to a greener Britain by 2020 by pledging seven major priorities at the next election to reform the way we use energy, build communities and protect nature.

Working together over several months, the group has developed goals which tackle the country’s biggest environmental challenges. Greener Britain argues its proposals would improve the country’s environment, strengthen the economy, build fairer, stronger communities and significantly enhance the UK’s international influence.

The coalition, with a combined supporter base of over seven million people, calls upon political parties to make these goals central to their manifestos.

Among the ideas, Greener Britain calls for new Marine Protected Areas in our overseas territories, the Arctic and around the UK; a 25 year plan for recovering our green spaces and wildlife; a major new approach to household energy savings; and a new Sustainable Neighbourhoods deal giving more power to communities.

The seven goals and proposals for achieving them are:

Goal 1: Lead the low carbon transition
• Make a fair, binding global deal, keeping within two degrees of global warming, a UK foreign policy priority for 2015
• Set a 2030 power decarbonisation target at 50g CO2/ kWh
• Expand the Green Investment Bank's role

Goal 2: Lead the protection of our oceans
• Create a million square km southern Atlantic reserve
• Champion a network of protected areas across the Arctic Ocean
• An ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected areas in UK seas

Goal 3: Plan for nature’s recovery
• Map local ecological networks
• Make a 25 year national plan for nature's recovery
• Set up a permanent arm's length body to ensure the sustainable use, and the restoration, of natural resources
• Deliver these through a Nature and Well-Being Act
 
Goal 4: Plan for improved public access to nature
• Incentivise natural infrastructure through the local growth found
• Address the park funding crisis with a 'future parks' innovation process

Goal 5: Accelerate household energy saving
• Set a stretch target for improving home energy performance
• Put local authorities at the heart of energy saving delivery
• Improve incentives for energy saving

Goal 6: Give communities more control
• Introduce a new Sustainable Neighbourhoods Deal
• Give all major UK cities London's transport powers and funding
• Ensure new housing policy allows local needs to be met within natural constraints

Goal 7: Act on the resource shock
• Commit to reducing the UK's resource use
• Create new resource risk capability in Government
• Create a market framework for 'negawatts'

Quoting from participating organisations:

Dr. Mike Clark, chief executive, RSPB:
“Greener Britain is our challenge to all parties: to change the world for the better, for people and for nature, by adopting our big ideas for a greener future. Among them, we propose a Nature and Well-being Act, setting out the long term plan for nature’s recovery, and a new Ocean Sanctuary around Ascension Island— the kinds of changes that can save nature and improve lives.

“Manifestos are sometimes important for their differences, but it’s when they’re the same that they’re really powerful, especially for issues like the environment that affect us in so many ways; I hope that all parties will be able to adopt these practical proposals for a greener Britain.”

Stephen Joseph, CEO, Campaign for Better Transport:
“At this time of urgent threats to our environment, it's absolutely critical that the people we elect to guide us through the next five years have an informed, inspired and sound environmental policy. Greener Britain provides the inspiration, and I'm hopeful that our would-be leaders will act on it for the sake of our communities and the natural habitats we depend on for health and well-being.

“Making transport more sustainable is absolutely vital if we are to tackle climate change and air pollution. Road transport accounts for 22 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, and air pollution causes 29,000 UK deaths per year.”

Peter Nixon, director of Conservation, the National Trust:
"Next May's election gives all parties the chance to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. We're calling for manifestos that commit to more and better local decision making; the provision of high quality local green spaces; and a bold plan for nature's recovery.”
 
John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace UK:
"Every parliament has five years to get a grip on the formidable threats facing our climate, oceans, forests and wildlife. The next government will have the chance to help forge a critical international deal on climate change, support the creation of a global sanctuary in the Arctic and protect huge areas of the world’s Southern Ocean around our overseas territories. The question is whether they will have the courage to face up to vested interests and the vision to make it happen."

Andy Atkins, executive director, Friends of the Earth:
“These proposals should give all the major parties pause to think carefully about their environmental agenda ahead of the next general election - they must respond both to the major challenges we face and the corresponding public call for stronger action.

“The Greener Britain priorities are a foundation for parties to build a robust response to the serious threat of climate change and the decline of our natural world.”

David Nussbaum, chief executive, WWF 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.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive, the Wildlife Trusts:
“It is time for every major party to realise that the future of our society depends profoundly on the future of our environment. Society will only prosper when genuine political leadership is shown on this issue.”

David Baldock, executive director, IEEP:
“It will be a critical time for Britain to be a strong advocate for the environment and effective climate action, both globally and in Europe. This is not an opportunity to waste.”

Matthew Spencer, director, Green Alliance:
“The proposals in this report offer all parties constructive ways to make Britain stronger and greener in a changing world. Their manifestos need to demonstrate that they have overcome the timidity of this parliament and have found their voice on the environment.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England:
“Our supporters care deeply about the local and the global environment. We want to see party manifestos which show that politicians share our concerns and will introduce policies to tackle our major environmental challenges.

“We hope in particular that the political parties will look to improve the planning system, which in recent years has marginalised community aspiration and environmental considerations. We need local authorities to work together for the good of our landscapes, and a community right of appeal to back up the welcome introduction of neighbourhood planning.”

Download the full Greener Britain publication here