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UK risks major embarrassment on global stage at nature COP15 - The Wildlife Trusts

Government’s long list of unfulfilled green promises leaves nature at risk

The UK risks major embarrassment on the world stage as the most important global meeting on biodiversity in decades – the fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – starts in Montreal, Canada next week.

COP15 comes at a time when nature is in steep decline across the Earth and the UK is officially one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Yet the Government’s decision to press on with The Retained EU Law Bill threatens over a thousand laws that protect the environment, including those that protect wild places and wildlife, and ensure minimum standards for water quality and pollution.

To make matters worse, the Government has “a pattern of missing legislative deadlines” – according to the Office for Environmental Protection – which undermine the UK’s ability to restore nature. Promised but missing policies include:

  1. Environment Act targets: overdue and key to nature’s recovery. With just seven years left to deliver them time is running out to reverse nature declines and clean up rivers
  2. Long promised Environmental Principles to help interpretation of environmental laws and prevent damage to nature: still missing
  3. 30x30 target: to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, but currently only at 3.22% with no clear plan of how to reach 30% in the next seven years
  4. Landscapes Review: implementation of protections for National Parks & AONBs – overdue
  5. Nature Recovery Green Paper: new protections for sites & species still not published
  6. Highly Protected Marine Areas: designations have yet to be announced
  7. New farm schemes in England to reward farmers for benefits to society: uncertainty as promised elements of the schemes disappear and ambition diminishes
  8. Local Nature Recovery Strategies: new system to plan nature’s recovery but stalled
  9. National Action Plan on Sustainable Use of Pesticides: absent since Spring 2022
  10. River Basin Management Plans: overdue despite appalling state of England’s rivers
  11. Ban on horticultural peat use: yet to introduce legislation to enact the ban
  12. Deposit Return Scheme to cut plastic pollution, especially in the marine environment: promised in 2018 but still not even close to being introduced
  13. Beaver reintroductions: still awaiting plans for allowing this species to roam wild
  14. Bycatch mitigation initiative to protect rare sea life: promised but stalled

All these stalled policies will prevent the UK from attaining the key principle of COP15 talks – to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

8 in 10 Scots want National Parks to have stronger focus on environment - Scottish Environment LINK

Almost 80% of the public want Scotland’s National Parks to have a stronger focus on restoring nature and tackling climate change, according to a new opinion poll.

The Scottish Government has committed to introducing at least one new National Park in this parliamentary term. Scotland currently has two National Parks, covering the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.

A public consultation is seeking views on the designation of future parks, as well as how well existing parks are managed. One proposal is for park authorities to be given a new overarching purpose to deliver nature restoration and a Just Transition to Net Zero.

78% of the public would support parks being given this refreshed environmental mandate, according to a new Survation poll commissioned by Scottish Environment LINK. Only 3% of the public said they would oppose such an approach.

Scottish Environment LINK, a coalition of environmental charities, is calling for National Parks to take a leadership role in tackling the nature and climate crises, for example through demonstrating how deer management can deliver nature restoration at scale while providing local employment opportunities.

Deborah Long, LINK’s Chief Officer, said: “It is more than two decades since Scotland’s two National Parks were established. Today there is a much greater understanding of the urgency of the environmental crises we face, and it is right that our National Parks lead in meeting that challenge. There are great examples of nature restoration work being done in our National Parks. But if we are serious about stopping and reversing nature loss, we need to do much more. The designation of a new National Park is a welcome opportunity to ensure that the level of ambition in our parks, across Scotland, meet the scale of the challenge on the ground.”

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