If not now, then when for nature?
By Jayne Manley, CEO Earth Trust
While we might grumble about the UK weather being ‘un-seasonally’ wet with much lower temperatures than we would like, elsewhere on the planet our forests and woodlands, grasslands and tundra peatlands are on fire.
In Canada, Greece and even the Arctic Circle this summer, land has been ablaze, blanketing cities in smoke. By the time the fire season waned at the end of last month, the blazes had emitted a record 244 megatonnes of carbon dioxide — 35% more than last year. And the primary driver? Climate change – caused primarily by burning fossil fuels – has helped create dry, “fire-prone” weather about 20-50% more intense than average.
The numbers are staggering – we are clearly in the midst of a planetary crisis. With catastrophic consequences for nature and people, they also put in jeopardy our ability to limit the warming of our planet. Whilst global warming of 1.5℃-2℃ would be much less damaging than the current trajectories of 3℃-4℃ degrees or above, we now have to factor in that as temperatures increase, wildfires across the planet will destroy the precious habitats that we need to protect and restore.
Influencing for better decisions
The experience of this summer further reinforces how urgent it is to rapidly reduce our emissions. Yet at the same time, here in the UK many decisions fly in the face of the direction we need to go.
This is why Earth Trust has joined forces with Wildlife and Countryside Link, combining forces with over 80 organisations to influence our politicians and policymakers to make better decisions.
As we approach party conference season – and a general election – we are advocating for decision-making that puts the environment, a green economy and climate at the heart of all party manifestos commitments.
Manifestos are the political party commitments against which you will decide your vote to determine who will be in power – and which people will be deciding our futures. Right now, this decision is more important than ever. This next five years determines whether the UK will be on track to net zero, halting loss of biodiversity and improving our environment and health, or not. To put it bluntly, what happens in the next five years will determine the world our children – and their children – will inhabit.
To help navigate the manifestos, and ahead of their publication influence for access to good quality natural spaces, we have five big asks of politicians: to give farming for nature a pay rise; make polluters pay; create more space for nature; create more green jobs; and put a right to a healthy environment in law.
I want to share with you why each of these is important to Earth Trust.
A payrise for nature-friendly farming
Farming has the potential to deliver quality food from heathy soils rich in carbon, clean water catchments and wildlife friendly habitats. But support that farmers need to make vital changes to the way we farm is fragmented – the funding is inconsistent, difficult to navigate and doesn’t recognise the true cost. The farming of green space is therefore under considerable pressure.
A Nature Recovery Obligation
Earth Trust increasingly receives enquiries from businesses wanting to be greener. We see businesses keen to support a more sustainable future for people but they need support to transform their businesses and their environmental decisions. An obligation to recover nature where damaged is critical but there is a step before this! By working with Earth Trust and others in WCL we can make sure that businesses have nature, people and climate plans in place, celebrating those that contribute to sustainability targets, and drive new private investment in green space recovery and equitable access for all.
Creating more space for nature
We need more space for nature, with more protected areas that are better managed for nature. But, at Earth Trust, we strongly believe in restoring and putting in place nature recovery close to where people work and play through the creation of new locations and improvement of existing spaces, designed for and with communities.
Create more green jobs
To achieve these goals and deliverwidescale habitat restoration we need people power. This means transforming career prospects in the environmental sector – creating green jobs in urban, rural and coastal habitats, in species recovery, in nature based solutions, in the design and build of sustainable communities – and skilling up communities to enable better environmental decision making.
A Right to a Healthy Environment
The loss of green space and the pollution of the air and water threatens everyone’s health and is cutting lives short, especially for the most economically disadvantaged. A new Environmental Rights Bill would create a human right to a clean air, water and access to nature – read more about this in my previous blog.
Don’t be confused by those who say that fires in Canada and Europe are not having an impact here in the UK. Our politicians need to be strong environmental leaders, they should carry influence, advocate for the planet on a local, national and internal stage.
Nature and green spaces need your help right now. They need your vote, join Earth Trust and make your voice louder for nature…