We wake up this morning to a new Conservative UK Government.
Whatever your views on the outcome, the election result is likely to mean that the Westminster Parliament will pass the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill by the end of January and then the UK Government will enter into intense negotiations about the future of the UK-EU relationship with a view to completing a deal by the end of 2020.
It will also mean that the UK Government must fast-track its efforts to maintain/bolster the environmental legal and institutional framework that will be lost when we leave the EU while also ensuring there is no regression from the environmental standards through any future trade deal. The hope and expectation is that this will be reflected in the new legislative plan outlined in the Queen's Speech which is forecast to take place next week.
In the run up to the election, the RSPB produced its manifesto for nature which we advocated to the political parties. This included five themes with detailed proposals in each area. As a package, we believe that this is the level of ambition required to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
Below, I match the Conservative Party manifesto commitments against each of these themes. I encourage you to familiarise yourselves with these promises as they constitute the new UK Government’s environmental agenda.
Our job now is to work to ensure the new UK Government delivers these commitments but also to campaign to bolster them and to prevent perverse unintended consequences – because that is what nature needs.
We are on the eve of a most critical decade for the planet. A decade when we must transform our economies so that our prosperity is decoupled from environmental harm. To avoid climate catastrophe and the risk of extinction to a million species, we need active and enlightened governments and we need the public to make their own voices heard.
The RSPB is, with your support, determined to play our part to the full.
A COMPARISON OF WHAT THE RSPB BELIEVES NATURE NEEDS AND WHAT THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY PROMISED IN ITS ELECTION MANIFESTO
What does nature need?
New laws to halt the decline in nature and put it on a path to recovery. As we approach 2020 – a crucial year for the environment – the UK needs to show leadership by championing similar ambition around the world.
What are the Conservatives promising?
Fundamental reform of agriculture and food policy so that land managers are supported to drive nature’s recovery.
A major recovery plan for our seas to restore our water environments and protect the unique wildlife that calls it home.
A legally enforceable Net Zero target of greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2045 and investment in nature-based solutions to climate change – including through our programme of Overseas Development Aid (ODA)
UK leadership on the global stage by reducing the UK’s ecological footprint through reform of trade and consumption patterns
I think Alex is probably right. And, I wonder, how do other manifesto pledges mesh with these environmental ones? For instance, I expect they will want to "grow the economy", which of course means more pressure on the resources provided by the natural world. Also they plan to cut red tape,, some of this could be environmental regulations; they plan to improve transport infrastructure, that could mean more or wider roads; they aim to promote entrepreneurship which, if not environmentally sustainable businesses, could put a greater burden on the environment. Then, more specifically, there is the badger cull - I think that is to continue under the new government. And, finally what about HS2? Will it go ahead or not? If it does, nature will be harmed.
It s likely in my opinion that the new government will use clever accounting and creative PR rather than fulfil their promises.