The Wildlife Trusts’ response to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy

The Wildlife Trusts’ response to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy

Pool system on peat bog by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Today, the Government published its flagship Net Zero Strategy, which outlines how it intends to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions across the UK by 2050. The Wildlife Trusts believe that this Strategy falls short of tackling both the nature and climate emergencies, which by the Government’s own recognition, are entirely interlinked.

While the Strategy outlines a handful of positives for nature – most notably an additional £124 million of funding to the Nature for Climate Fund to boost woodland creation and peatland restoration – it lacks the policies and investment needed to repair our broken natural world both on land and at sea, at the pace and scale required.   

We need to make much more space for nature to recover – and increase it to at least 30% by 2030. Also, the Government must embed climate action – mitigation and adaptation – across every department and take urgent steps to stop carbon-emitting activities such as new road building, peat burning and damaging the seabed, which are absent from the Strategy.   

What is more, the Strategy relies on expensive innovation, built infrastructure, large-scale biomass crops and carbon capture and storage technologies that risk furthering the acute jeopardy facing our natural world.  

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“It's good to see the Government releasing more detail about their net zero plans at last – but they don’t seem to have fully recognised the role that nature can play. The nature and climate crises are intrinsically linked – we can’t solve one without the other. But there’s little new for nature today and minimal extra investment to enhance nature’s powers to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Instead, old policies are being recycled – and it’s not enough.  

“Worse still, there are significant gaps in the strategy – vastly more peatland restoration is needed and the Government needs to ban peat burning right now or else they’ll undermine their own efforts to repair this valuable carbon-storing habitat. No commitments have been made to protect the seabed – a glaring absence. What’s more, by focusing on technologies like nuclear power – which cannot supply the clean power we need in time – the natural environment will be put at further risk.   

“Nature has a role to play to help us meet net zero and the Chancellor must boost investment in our neglected natural assets at next week’s spending review. Healthy natural habitats are crucial to tackling climate change and they are the bedrock of our prosperity. The Treasury’s Net Zero Review makes clear that further delayed investment will only serve to put future generations at risk and burden them with higher costs.”