Post-Brexit Britain should become the global green giant, says report


BRIGHT Blue has published a major new report, Global green giant? A policy story, offers a blueprint for how Britain can become ‘a global green giant on conservation.’

The report proposes around 50 ambitious conservation ideas, both for domestic and foreign policy, across five themes: a green and pleasant land; ending the plastic scourge; protecting our marine environments; eliminating the illegal wildlife trade; and, global green leadership.

Patrick Hall, researcher at Bright Blue and co-author of the report, commented: “Biodiversity decline and climate change are urgent and interlinked crises.

“The UK is a world leader in climate change mitigation, most recently shown through being the first major economy to adopt a net-zero emissions target.

“But there is a need and an opportunity to do the same for biodiversity – to become a global green giant on conservation.

“The current Government is starting to show that global leadership.

“But we need more new and ambitious conservation policies, both at home and abroad. 2020 is a critical year for the UK to step up.”

Bright Blue’s leading policy recommendations are:

Global green leadership

  • At COP26, the UK should announce a new target to be the biggest funder of global conservation efforts in proportional terms through ODA and the establishment of a new ‘Global Nature Conservation Fund’ of at least £1 billion per year from the UK ODA budget.
  • The UK should advocate for a complete international ban on all forms of whaling through the International Whaling Commission, with enforceable sanctions for countries which violate this.
  • The UK should create a new Special Envoy for Climate Change and Biodiversity, appointed by the Prime Minister.

Ending the plastic scourge

  • An increase of fixed penalty notices to a minimum of £500 to individuals caught littering by local authorities or the police should be implemented, with higher fines for repeat offenders.
  • The UK should ban non-recyclable black plastic as soon as is feasibly possible.
  • There should be an increase in the minimum charge for ‘bags for life’ to 70p as soon as possible, but not an increase in the minimum charge for a single-use bag.
  • All producers and retailers across the UK which sell drink containers covered by a deposit return scheme should be required to fund and operate a return point on their premises.

A green and pleasant land

  • Existing development restrictions on low-value Green Belt land in some areas should be relaxed if a more ambitious net biodiversity gain obligation is placed on developers than the proposed 10% increase in habitat value for wildlife post-development.
  • Every city in the UK, where appropriate, ought to include an urban nature corridor as part of the UK’s new national nature recovery network.
  • Every state secondary school in the country should plant and name an area of trees to support the government’s new afforestation target.
  • The Government should introduce mandatory water efficiency labelling on all new applicable products and the introduction of minimum product standards for water efficiency.

Protecting our marine environments

  • The UK should implement a ban on bottom trawling in all its Marine Protected Areas.
  • The UK Government should set a target of protecting 30% of UK domestic waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.
  • The Government should increase the minimum criteria for the management of all existing and future Marine Protected Areas in domestic waters and in UK Overseas Territories.

Eliminating the illegal wildlife trade

  • Statutory duties should be placed on organisations with an annual turnover of £36 million or more within the UK to monitor and prevent financial flows that could reasonably be related to the IWT.
  • New ‘Magnitsky Clause’ amendments to existing legislation should be introduced which would enable the UK Government to freeze UK-based assets of foreign citizens implicated in supporting the IWT, wildlife crime, and other forms of gross species and habitat destruction.
  • The UK should seek to remain part of EU-TWIX after fully leaving the EU and, especially in the final months of being Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, should seek to improve evidence sharing between Commonwealth countries on IWT by advocating for and helping to build a Commonwealth version of the EU-TWIX scheme.

The Rt Hon The Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, Minister of State for the Environment, added: “This is a timely and important contribution to the debate on conservation and climate change.”

“Under the Conservatives, the UK is leading the world on climate change and has one of the most ambitious environment programmes of any country on earth.

“As we embark on what has been described as a ‘super year for nature’, culminating in the UN Climate conference in Glasgow, we have a huge opportunity to ramp up global efforts to combat environmental destruction and climate change, which are two sides of the same coin.

“The landmark Environment Bill making its way through Parliament sets us on an ambitious course outside the EU and will cement the UK’s global leadership.

“Reports such as this from Bright Blue are always welcome and eagerly anticipated by policymakers both inside and outside government.”