Tag Archives: biodiversity

Yesterday was Earth Day – was it also the day we really began to tackle the climate emergency?

Earth Day is now in its 51st year. If Donald Trump had gained a second term, it would have probably gone unnoticed in the Capitol yesterday. But Joe Biden is now leading America and he used the occasion to host an international summit and announce deep cuts in carbon emissions. Pledges came in from leaders across the world.

Boris Johnson got his pennyworth in earlier announced that he will set in law “world’s most ambitious climate change target”, cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels in pursuit of zero carbon by 2050. Admirable stuff. More important than the headline figure is that the UK’s Carbon Budget will incorporate our share of international aviation and shipping emissions, which each contribute three to four per cent each to global warming.

Are we turning the corner at last in getting the political commitments we need to drive the business and societal changes needed to tackle climate change? Maybe.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

We can’t solve climate change and biodiversity loss without solving planning – a view from the grass roots

I am writing from the heart following a battering few years trying to protect biodiversity landscapes from new developments and to get sustainable transport written into housing and supermarket schemes.

On biodiversity, all we have got from developments in my expanding rural town is tokenism. Replacement trees within manicured landscapes. Not the untidy scrubby bits of landscape that are or will become biodiversity rich.

On sustainable transport, the car remains king. There are no plans for bus routes to serve four major housing developments. The out of town supermarket, with the backing of councillors and planners, doesn’t even have a bus stop.

The planning system is working against our national and international ambitions to enrich biodiversity and tackle the climate emergency.

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Fighting a losing battle: why Lib Dems should back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Embed from Getty Images

On Wednesday, Caroline Lucas, the sole Green Party MP at Westminster, did what she does best. She tabled a private members bill.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill would mandate that the UK:

  • goes further in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting our historic emissions and relative capacity to rapidly decarbonise;
  • takes steps to protect and restore biodiversity and soil;
  • accounts for overseas activity (e.g. in supply chains) in emissions accounting;
  • acts on the basis of currently available technology, rather than hypothetical future solutions;
  • establishes a citizen’s assembly to build consensus around specific policy actions.

These provisions are the price we must pay if we are to bear our full responsibility for the climate change. We cannot rely on sci-fi ideas which may never be realised, or ask those least responsible to bear the greatest burden. We may have devoted little attention to biodiversity, habitats and soil in the past, but these have profound importance, supporting food chains and acting as carbon sinks, not to mention being intrinsically valuable.

Even the citizen’s assembly, which I am temperamentally averse to as it allows government to abdicate their responsibility to lead, here serves only an advisory function, helping to build consensus without the usual risks of direct democracy.

There’s much to support and little to criticise.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

Seething Wells

The Seething Wells Filter Beds is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, and it’s one of many across the country that needs a change in the law to enable the Council to protect its biodiversity. So we have launched a petition asking Government to ‘Give Councils the power to protect nature reserves

Current legislation is a mess, involving the Council, Police, Environment Agency and English Heritage. We think the Council should be the single reasonability authority for all nature reserves, including those in private ownership.

The Seething Wells Filter Beds was a Thames Water facility that they stopped using back in 1992. Since then, nature has come back to the site in abundance. It has bats in the under road tunnels, flora and fauna, London grasslands, insects that need standing water and the birds that feed off them. It is also historically significant as it played an important role in proving cholera was waterborne in the mid-1800s.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

Nature can’t be shuffled around like politicians or for profit

lichen - ramalina siliquosaBiodiversity offsetting? It sounds as interesting as a ministerial reshuffle. But a reshuffle is here today, gone tomorrow. The government’s proposal to allow developers to build over wildlife spots providing they ‘recreate’ them elsewhere is more than a minor change within the incomprehensible thicket of environmental rules. Biodiversity offsetting could threaten our fragile biodiverse landscapes.

Owen Paterson told the Independent:

For the developer there are massive advantages. You’d have certainty, you’d have clarity, and you’d have speed and a massive reduction of cost. But you’d also leave the environment in a better place than you found it for the longer term.

Wildlife groups are nervous.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments
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