Don’t forget the nature: CPRE responds to 10-point environment plan

Woods store huge amounts of carbon… and they’re a good place for a stroll (pic Julie Davies)

CPRE, the countryside charity, says the prime minister’s “green industrial revolution” aimed at tackling climate change and creating jobs in such industries as nuclear energy, has missed the vital role played by nature.
Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan was announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 17), with the headline statement being that cars and vans powered wholly by petrol or diesel will not be sold in this country from 2030.
Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, however, has highlighted the lack of emphasis on the natural environment.
He said: “Nature should be playing a starring role in tackling the climate emergency alongside the rapid carbon emissions cuts in our transport, energy, homes and food.
“While new technology is rightly being rolled out across the country to slash emissions, the government should also be getting back to basics and harnessing the potential of the countryside to soak up carbon emissions and prevent runaway climate change.   
“Hedgerows, peatlands, trees, grasslands and many other parts of our countryside store vast amounts of carbon. It’s no wonder peatlands are seen as the UK’s rainforest when, in their natural state, they safely lock away over three billion tonnes of carbon.
“MPs will be debating a long-awaited ban on the burning of moorlands hours after the launch of the prime minister’s 10-point plan. It’s never been clearer that more needs to be done to grab the low-hanging fruit that are nature-based solutions and end our contribution to the climate emergency.
“The prime minister is absolutely right that action to tackle climate change should boost economic growth and benefit communities right across the country.
“It is encouraging to see the renewed focus on energy efficiency for existing homes. It is now more important than ever that new schemes aimed to reduce our emissions also improve people’s lives by tackling fuel poverty and poor air quality and improve public transport and access to nature and green space.
“It’s time for government to step up and deliver real action to tackle the climate emergency.” 
Some £4 billion has been earmarked for the plan – a total that has been criticised by some commentators as too small a figure.
The BBC has listed the 10 points as follows:
Offshore wind: Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030, and supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
Hydrogen: Have five gigawatts of “low carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – and develop the first town heated by the gas by the end of the decade.
Nuclear: Pushing nuclear power as a clean energy source and including provision for a large nuclear plant, as well as for advanced small nuclear reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
Electric vehicles: Phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and investing in grants to help buy cars and charge point infrastructure.
Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport for the future.
Jet zero and greener maritime: Supporting research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
Carbon capture: Developing world-leading technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 – equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber.
Nature: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, with plans to include planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year.
Innovation and finance: Developing cutting-edge technologies and making the City of London the global centre of green finance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020