After a short break, we’re back with our regular Policy News feature. Dive in for an overview of recent developments.
- Applications for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme opened this month for farmers and landowners to apply for funding to improve the natural environment within their land areas to enhance and expand the quality of habitats and support biodiversity.
- Defra have announced new regulations to protect important blanket bogs in the UK. These measures will prevent burning of protected peatland sites unless a specific license has been issued to do so. Check out this IUCN webpage for further information on how these measures will support their UK Peatland Programme.
- The UK launched the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue on 2nd February, which will bring together key countries exporting agricultural products and the countries consuming these products to discuss how to make this process greener and more sustainable. This collaborative action will take place through 2021 up to November’s COP26 climate conference and beyond.
- Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta released his HM Treasury-commissioned review on the economics of biodiversity this month which presented some alarming results that caused quite a stir. The report outlines that although our economy is 14 times bigger than in 1950, this has been at the detriment of biodiversity. The key message from his review is that it will be less costly (in the long run) to act now rather than act later.
- Progress towards protecting the UK’s environment has been “painfully slow”, a government spending watchdog has warned.
- The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) was launched this month. This grant scheme is intended to support the development of environmental projects in England which will support the government’s goals to meet their 25 year environment plan and green finance strategy.
- The formation and first meeting of the Lowland Agriculture Peatland Task Force committee took place this month, to begin discussions on how we can better protect farmed lowland peat habitats. This group is fundamental to the government’s ‘England Peat Strategy’.
- The Scottish government have published its Heat in Buildings strategy which plans to transform the way Scotland’s buildings are heated so they are warmer, greener, and more efficient and reach zero emissions by 2045.
- The Welsh government have announced new regulations to address the issue of agricultural pollution on Wales’ inland aquatic ecosystems. Guidelines and funding have been set out in Wales to further support farmers in minimising the harmful effects of agricultural pollution to plants and wildlife reliant on the country’s water systems.
- The Welsh government have also set out plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, if not sooner! The government has announced plans for this year already in order to respond to the climate emergency and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and highlights that in order to achieve their goal they need everyone to play their part.
- Following a poll of European people last month, a survey has found that the vast majority of those interviewed do not support the EU-Mercusor trade deal with South America if the Mercusor (combined countries of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguya) do not halt deforestation of the Amazon. Further details on this can be found here.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has launched the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development – a major initiative to protect the world’s oceans through the next ten years.
- The conservation community held their breath hoping that President Joe Biden would make important moves in ensuring America contributed to tackling climate change, and with great relief the newly elected president set out brave and ambitious targets this year which aim to tackle just that! Biden has rejoined the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and proposed a $2 trillion investment in clean energy by 2035. A video of his goals can be found here with a more detailed layout of plans found here.
- Australia is the most recent country to join the Global Oceans Alliance which aims to protect 30% of global oceans by 2030. Australian oceans are under particular threat from ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution so this alliance is very encouraging to see. A press release from the Australian government can be found here.