Where are climate and nature in this election campaign?

The next UK parliament will be the most crucial ever in terms of tipping the balance in favour of nature’s recovery. We look at how nature and climate are featuring on the campaign trail.

In a recent blog for Green Alliance, Lord Debden, Chair of the Climate Change Committee, argues that climate and nature have not had the prominent position or detailed exploration they need in this election campaign.

At the BES we agree. Unsurprisingly, much of the public debate surrounding the General Election over recent weeks has focused on issues like the cost-of-living crisis, housing, and taxation. And the levels of aspiration and detail in the manifestos released so far on environmental and ecological policy has been mixed.

The scientific community agrees too, as shown by a recent open letter signed by notable figures, including our President Professor Bridget Emmett.

Crucially, the public also agrees. A recent polling by the Wildlife Trusts found that nearly 60% of people consider environmental issues to be at least as important as other issues facing the country, with nearly two fifths of respondents saying they will vote based on the environmental credentials of candidates.

The five reforms we need

As a member of Wildlife & Countryside Link, the BES is a supporter of the Nature 2030 advocacy campaign, in collaboration between a range of groups including the National Trust, CIEEM and the RSPB. This is asking for a step change in political ambition to urgently reverse species decline and restore habitats across the UK.

Nature 2030 sets out five key policy asks:

  1. Public spending for nature – doubling the nature-friendly farming budget to pay for an increase in ambitious agroecological action and largescale nature restoration.
  2. Greening business – legislating for mandatory climate and nature transition plans, new duties to require private sector funding for species and habitats recovery, as well as ensuring polluters are financially responsible for their actions.
  3. Space for nature – a 30×30 rapid delivery programme, restoring protected sites and landscapes, and creating a Public Nature Estate to fulfil the promise to protect 30% of the land and sea for nature.
  4. Green jobs – through a National Nature Service, delivering wide scale habitat restoration and creating green jobs in urban, rural and coastal habitats and in species recovery.
  5. Environmental Rights – establishing a human right to clean air and water and enhanced access to nature and green space.

If you are keen to get involved and have your voice heard before the election, join the BES at the Restore Nature Now March tomorrow, 22 June, in London along with other organisations backing the Nature 2030 aims and notable figures ranging from Chris Packham to Dame Judi Dench.

As well as the public march, the BES continues to give a voice to our members and convene expertise to develop and advocate for ambitious, evidence-led policy for nature and climate.

Water quality has remained on the political agenda given the extent of sewage discharges across the country in fresh water and coastal area. Our recent report on freshwater indicators with key recommendations including increased payments for farmers working to improve water quality and investment in nature-based solutions for wastewater treatment is just one example. We recently also endorsed the i newspaper’s freshwater manifesto.

Follow our social media channels next week as we take a look at the manifestos of all the major parties from an ecological perspective.

After all, if the next election is not until 2029, this parliament will be the most crucial ever in terms of tipping the balance, at last, in favour of nature’s recovery.