Environment Agency chair, Emma Howard Boyd, and Natural England chair, Tony Juniper, have issued a new year call for the UK to step up on the climate and nature emergency and show world leadership.
The chairs argued global efforts to address climate change are faltering – most recently at the UN’s Madrid talks – and said “Now is the time to set the best example we can”. They noted positive moves from the UK already, particularly the 2050 net zero policy and the new Environment Bill that is likely to be presented to Parliament soon.
But they pointed out: “Our new ambition is only as good as its delivery. That is why, in addition to laws, policies and initiatives, it will be vital to make substantial financial investments into environmental recovery. This includes adequately resourced public bodies with the capability to undertake complex and sometimes controversial work on the ground.”
Howard Boyd (pictured left) and Juniper (right) said all the environmental challenges we face are fundamentally connected to one another. “Climate change is causing damage to ecosystems, such as the droughts which are wrecking chalk rivers and wetlands, while the degradation of the natural environment, such as deforestation and drainage of peatlands, is leading to the emissions that cause climate change…If we are to adapt to what are now inevitable climatic shifts, including the effects of extreme weather, then restoring the natural environment must be at the heart of our response.”
And they said the consequences of climate change and degradation of the natural environment are present today, not just future threats. They cited the recent Fishlake flood crisis and October 2019’s State of Nature in the UK report, which revealed 41% of the country’s wildlife species have declined over the past 50 years and 13% of the species tracked are threatened with extinction in England.