IEMA and CCC outline need for meaningful environmental targets

23rd September 2020

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Ian Wilson

Sustainability body IEMA and the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have today outlined how the UK government can deliver meaningful environmental targets.

During a webinar hosted by the Broadway Initiative in partnership with IEMA and the Aldersgate Group this morning, CCC CEO Chris Stark warned that there is a danger that the Environment Bill will include arbitrary and poorly-defined targets.

“There is huge overlap between the environmental objectives and climate objectives that we have in UK, and all of this is going to have to be coordinated outside of the protections for the environment that were enshrined in EU law,“ he said.

“At a fundamental level, were are going to move from an EU-wide set of protections to what I'm afraid is going to be a patchwork of environmental protections across the four nations of the UK. I think that is going to be tricky.

“My enduring worry for this bill is that we will have a piece of legislation that becomes law without properly establishing the various protections and protocols that we need.“

Stark explained how the Climate change Act should be seen as a model for target setting, and that the Environment Bill must:

  • Require the government to take advice of an independent and well-resourced expert body that undertakes broader consultations for target setting
  • Compel action now, with the current interim targets outlined in the bill not yet legally binding
  • Link long-term targets and their associated time frames directly to the goals set in the government's 25 Year Environment Plan

“But perhaps the toughest challenge of all is imaging how climate change will itself interact with these new environmental targets. Climate change presents risks to these, so we have to have targets that can adapt to that,“ he added.

Meanwhile, IEMA CEO Sarah Mukherjee said that it is clear that the development of credible pathways to deliver challenging targets set through the Environment Bill is essential, and not in the gift of the government alone.

“The road to sustainability is littered with goals and targets that have failed or are only partially met,“ she continued. “The Environment Bill provides the next opportunity, not only to crystallise in law the government's commitment to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth, but also to set out the means to achieve it.

“The last few days have seen an unprecedented series of reports that paint a depressing picture of lofty ambition brought down by failures to deliver – this can no longer be acceptable.

“In welcoming an approach that puts legally-binding targets at the heart of the Environment Bill, we must all rise to the challenge of meeting them – further failure is not an option.“

You can read a more in-depth report on today's webinar here:

Image credit: iStock


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