Gove to call for urgent action on climate crisis

16th July 2019

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Ilias Sofikitis

The UK's environment secretary Michael Gove will today make a passionate plea for more political will to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss across the world.

In a keynote speech at Kew Gardens, Gove will say that “time is running out“ to reverse the “catastrophic“ loss of nature caused by humans, and outline his hope that 2020 will be a year of global action.

He will also unveil the government's ambition for a world-leading Environment Act to match the success of Climate Change Act, and argue that other countries should follow the UK's leadership.

In what could be his last speech as environment secretary before a new Conservative leader is announced, Gove will say: “Nature is in retreat – we have seen a catastrophic loss of biodiversity across the globe as a result of man's actions.

“An estimated 80% of the original forest that covered the Earth 8,000 years ago has been cleared, damaged or fragmented. Some scientists assess the rate at which species are becoming extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate would be.“

Gove is set to stress the political, economic and moral reasons for protecting the environment, highlighting how climate change is endangering lives, raising sea levels and depleting soils.

He is also expected to use his speech to outline the need for a comprehensive deposit return scheme for drink containers of all sizes, setting “a trajectory for environmental improvement for decades to come“.

This comes as the UK waits to see if its bid to host the COP26 climate summit next year is successful, while the UN negotiation on ocean protection and biodiversity conference in China are also opportunities for action in 2020.

IEMA's chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, who will attend Gove's speech, said the government should demonstrate that it is serious about tackling the climate crisis in legislation.

“The forthcoming Environment Act provides an opportunity to significantly improve our natural world and put sustainability at the heart our future economic model,“ Baxter said.

“It is vital that the new government uses the new Act to align environment and climate policies in a long-term policy framework that gives confidence for investment in a sustainable future“.

Image credit: Shutterstock


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