At the turn of the decade, let's reflect on the things we've achieved together this year and look forward to the opportunities (and challenges!) around the corner...

It has been a topsy-turvy year for politics, but when it comes to getting nature and climate on the agenda we should all be extremely proud.

It’s been a big month in politics, but however you feel about the election result you should be extremely proud that you helped to make sure nature and climate was at the heart of this year’s debates. Not only did you help to get the first ever leaders debate on climate and nature, there were more green promises this year than ever before, including from our new Conservative Government. (See Martin Harper's analysis.) 

This is thanks to all the work of campaigners like you to get the nature and climate crisis in the hearts and minds of our politicians. You may have campaigned on the Environment Bill in Westminster, fought for Scotland's nature with a new Environment Act, campaigned for a Welsh Sustainable Land Management Bill, or for an environment strategy in Northern Ireland. You might have come all the way to London for the Mass Lobby (of 300 MPS!), you might have joined your local youth strikes in September, submitted consultation responses online, or talked to your politician. You might have also helped to get birdsong into the charts or taken part in the birdsong takeover in October... You have done SO much this year. And all this incredible noise for nature is making people sit up and listen. Every conversation, every tweet, every letter, every action adds up. We can see it is having an impact when in every party's election manifesto there are bigger and bolder promises for our environment.

Sadly, however, those big promises need to materialise, and it is our job as campaigners to make sure they do. Since the Tories won last Friday, we have already seen news that Boris could ditch his commitment to maintain environmental protections post-Brexit. This shows that despite all the promises, we still have a lot of work to do to make sure our politicians don't roll back on them.

Our primary job in 2020 is to hold our new Government to account and push them to raise their ambition not just at home in the UK, but internationally too (when we influence other countries at the global summits next autumn). 

Leaving the EU means we get to write our own laws, which is a huge opportunity to go above and beyond what we currently do for nature and climate. But the laws we write must be as good as, if not better than, EU laws, otherwise nature will suffer.

2020 is a super year for climate and nature

This year, as well as needing to get through lots of new laws for nature and agriculture in the UK (to replace EU laws), we also have two huge global summits on biodiversity and climate that will set the ambition and action plan for the next crucial decade.

As you know all too well, nature and our climate are in a continuing state of crisis. Over the last decade we have failed to meet our global commitments for biodiversity, and this continuing loss and degradation threatens the well-being and, ultimately, survival of humanity. At the same time, the climate crisis risks breaching dangerous and potentially irreversible tipping points, changing conditions for life on earth so rapidly and dramatically that adapting to these may be difficult, if not impossible.

The UK is not meeting its targets for climate or nature, but we also have huge political influence on the global stage, so if we were ambitious in our response to the crisis, then other countries would follow. So next year these are the things we need to campaign for to ramp up action for the environment…

Here's a list of what we need to get in 2020:

NB: the environment is a devolved area, and so is agriculture (mostly), so every country in the UK will need its own laws to save nature and rural life.

UK Government:

  • Environment Bill (including nature recovery targets, independent green watchdogs to uphold the law, legally binding environmental principles, and if there is still no Assembly in Northern Ireland, then provisions to govern the environment in Northern Ireland too.)

  • Agriculture Bill (including a subsidy system that rewards farmers for the benefits they bring society - known as ‘public goods’ - like improving soil, water and air quality, storing carbon and improving habitats for wildlife)

  • Trade agreements (that include a commitment to maintaining high environmental standards on products we import and export, e.g. like avoiding foods that contribute to deforestation)

Welsh Government:

  • Governance and Principles Bill (in addition to the existing Environment Wales Act, and nature needs it to include targets, watchdogs and principles like the UK Government’s Environment Bill.)

  • Sustainable Land Management Bill (including a ‘public money for public goods’ system where farmers are supported for managing the land in a way that produces lots of public benefits, as well as providing healthy food.)

Scottish Government:

  • Scottish Environment Bill (including the same needs as Wales and Westminster, for targets, watchdogs, and principles. It will also need to compliment the Scottish Climate Act.)

  • Scottish Agriculture Bill (including the same need for a ‘public money for public goods’ system that supports farmers and crofters to restore the environment and provide public benefits like locking up carbon.)

Northern Ireland Assembly:

  • Unfortunately, without a sitting Assembly, Northern Ireland can’t progress any of their own legislation. Although, we are hopeful that 2020 is the year when either the current Assembly sits again or there is an election to get a new parliament. Either way, Northern Ireland needs laws to include provisions for its environment and agriculture post Brexit, whether through its own laws or the UK Government laws above.

Global Biodiversity Summit:

  • In October there will be a UN conference of Parties (COP) for the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is the UN process that sets the global ambition and targets for how we restore biodiversity globally. In 2010 we set targets to meet by 2020, but none of the countries, including the UK, have met those targets. So this year we have to reset the targets and make the agreements even stronger so countries can’t wiggle out of them.

Global Climate Summit (COP26):

  • In October, Glasgow will host the UN Conference of Parties (COP) on Climate Change. Since the terrifying climate science has escalated and continues to tell us we have a very short window before we can avoid planetary tipping points we can’t return from, this COP will be even more crucial going forward. The COP25 that finished in Madrid last week was incredibly disappointing due to a few industries and countries holding back the negotiations (see our climate expert Melanie’s analysis, who was there at the negotiations)

So - as we can see - there is a hell of a lot to fight for this year, but thanks to the passion and dedication of everyone in the environment movement - including you - we are going to make it a huge success.

In the meantime, have a lovely festive break - take time to rest, reflect and rejuvenate, and we'll see you in the new year for more awesome action! 

Campaign Love,

Natasha

(your new Head of Campaigns!)

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