Dear Prime Minister,
A year ago we were pleased when you made the commitment to make yours the ‘greenest government ever’. It was a great ambition, with some promising policies in the Coalition Agreement and the early cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow to back it up.
Twelve months on your Government’s performance is less impressive. There have been some significant positive steps including the decision to set up a green investment bank, a commitment to a Natural Environment White Paper following UK leadership at the biodiversity convention at Nagoya, and the decisions to fund the demonstration of carbon capture and storage and renewable heat. During the same period, however, we have fallen from 3rd to 13th on the international league table of attractiveness to clean energy investors because of perceived uncertainty about the direction of UK policy. There have also been some real set-backs, most notably the lack of protection for wildlife and the countryside in the reform of the land use planning system and the view that there should be a default ‘yes’ to new development; the delay in borrowing powers for the green investment bank; the weakening of the zero carbon homes policy; and the inclusion of all environmental protection law in the ‘red tape challenge’.
Our view is that your Government started with a strong sense of purpose on the environment but is now in danger of losing its way. Getting back on track will require strong leadership from you and your colleagues. This means putting green growth at the heart of your economic recovery strategy; prioritising stronger environmental protection in your proposals for localism and land use planning; committing resources to restoring the health of the UK’s land and sea; and placing international climate finance and natural resource security at the forefront of your Government’s foreign policy.
Most critically we urge you to set out the case that a green economy is central to the future prosperity of the UK and not a cost to be endlessly debated and watered down, as if it were a luxury. As a first step in doing this, and to create clarity for investors and citizens about the UK’s direction, we would urge you to accept the key recommendations of the CCC’s fourth carbon budget report.
We believe there is still scope for your Government to be the greenest ever, but it will require both urgency and resolve. We are committed to playing our part in helping the UK achieve a prosperous green economy and stand ready to work with your Government to achieve this.
Matthew Spencer, Director, Green Alliance
Loretta Minghella, Director, Christian Aid
John Sauven, Chief Executive, Greenpeace UK
Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, RSPB
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK
Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive Officer, Campaign for Better Transport
Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
David Baldock, Executive Director, IEEP
Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive, Wildlife Trusts
Martin Warren, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
Victoria Chester, Chief Executive, Plantlife
Martin Spray, Chief Executive, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Sue Holden, Chief Executive, Woodland Trust