Treasury mulls natural capital
- Ecosystems ,
- Biodiversity ,
- Natural resources
Measurement of natural capital could be included in official public sector guidance on appraising costs and benefits of projects and policies.
Speaking to the environmentalist at the Natural Capital Initiative conference in November, Defra chief economist Ulrike Hotopp said that meetings with the Treasury on including natural capital in its Green Book, which is currently being updated, had been “very constructive”.
“We’ve suggested text to put in the Green Book. They were a bit sceptical at first, but now they’ve completely taken it on board,” she said.
The guidance will help public sector professionals identify the ecosystems to consider when assessing the impacts of projects, and assist them to calculate the cost any loss of the services the ecosystem provides, such as flood mitigation and erosion prevention, she said.
Awareness of ecosystem services across government departments is not yet high. Analysis carried out for Defra by consultancy Eftec found that, although 80% of impact assessments treat economic impacts rigorously, 50% treat environmental impacts with low rigour or not at all. Full quantification and monetary valuation of impacts were scarce, the study found.
A 2012 supplement to the Green Book included ecosystem services, but, although this appears to have increased the number of environmental impacts covered, there was no detailed assessment of 70% of them.
Of the findings, Phil Cryle, a consultant at Eftec, said the main reason for the lack of effective assessment of environment impacts lay with the way professionals mainly use the guidance. “Often they apply it only when a problem arises rather than as a matter of course,” he said.
Mark Everard, visiting research fellow at the University of the West of England, said: “The updated Green Book will need to make a substantive change in articulating why this matters for a non-green audience and a provide pragmatic tool to help them do it or it won’t make any difference.”
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.
The UK's solar energy capacity must treble over the next decade for the country to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but is only set to double under a business-as-usual scenario.
The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has today been launched to support financial institutions and corporates in assessing and managing emerging risks and opportunities as the world looks to reverse biodiversity loss.