We wake up this morning to a new Conservative UK Government.
Whatever your views on the outcome, the election result is likely to mean that the Westminster Parliament will pass the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill by the end of January and then the UK Government will enter into intense negotiations about the future of the UK-EU relationship with a view to completing a deal by the end of 2020.
It will also mean that the UK Government must fast-track its efforts to maintain/bolster the environmental legal and institutional framework that will be lost when we leave the EU while also ensuring there is no regression from the environmental standards through any future trade deal. The hope and expectation is that this will be reflected in the new legislative plan outlined in the Queen’s Speech which is forecast to take place next week.
In the run up to the election, the RSPB produced its manifesto for nature which we advocated to the political parties. This included five themes with detailed proposals in each area. As a package, we believe that this is the level of ambition required to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
Below, I match the Conservative Party manifesto commitments against each of these themes. I encourage you to familiarise yourselves with these promises as they constitute the new UK Government’s environmental agenda.
Our job now is to work to ensure the new UK Government delivers these commitments but also to campaign to bolster them and to prevent perverse unintended consequences – because that is what nature needs.
We are on the eve of a most critical decade for the planet. A decade when we must transform our economies so that our prosperity is decoupled from environmental harm. To avoid climate catastrophe and the risk of extinction to a million species, we need active and enlightened governments and we need the public to make their own voices heard.
The RSPB is, with your support, determined to play our part to the full.
A COMPARISON OF WHAT THE RSPB BELIEVES NATURE NEEDS AND WHAT THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY PROMISED IN ITS ELECTION MANIFESTO What does nature need? New laws to halt the decline in nature and put it on a path to recovery. As we approach 2020 – a crucial year for the environment – the UK needs to show leadership by championing similar ambition around the world. What are the Conservatives promising?
- An Environment Bill to protect and restore the natural environment after leaving the EU.
- An independent Office for Environmental Protection, introducing legal targets including for air quality.
What does nature need? Fundamental reform of agriculture and food policy so that land managers are supported to drive nature’s recovery. What are the Conservatives promising?
- An agriculture policy based on ‘public money for public goods’.
- A guarantee that the current annual budget to farmers will remain in place in every year of the next Parliament.
- A commitment that in return for funding, farmers must farm in a way that protects and enhances our natural environment, as well as safeguarding high standards of animal welfare.
What does nature need? A major recovery plan for our seas to restore our water environments and protect the unique wildlife that calls it home. What are the Conservatives promising?
- To lead diplomatic efforts to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030
- A new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to help protect our oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing, and extend the Blue Belt programme to preserve the maritime environment.
- A legal commitment to fish sustainably and a legal requirement for a plan to achieve maximum sustainable yield for each stock.
- £4 billion investment in flood defences
What does nature need? A legally enforceable Net Zero target of greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2045 and investment in nature-based solutions to climate change – including through our programme of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) What are the Conservatives promising?
- Net zero by 2050
- New international partnerships to tackle deforestration and protect vital landscapes and wildlife corridors.
- A £640 million new Nature for Climate fund (to help deliver an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland).
- Support for the creation of new kinds of homes that have low energy bills and which support our environmental targets and will expect all new streets to be lined with trees.
- 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 enabling new floating wind farms
- Use the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to ask global partners to match UK ambition.
What does nature need? UK leadership on the global stage by reducing the UK’s ecological footprint through reform of trade and consumption patterns What are the Conservatives promising?
- No compromise on environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards through trade negotiations.
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