Lord Smith: UK must stay green through recession

The UK must hold its nerve during the financial crisis and stick to its environmental goals, the chairman of the Environment Agency has said.

Speaking at the Environmental Industries Commission’s annual conference, Lord Chris Smith said one of the major reasons for continuing the green agenda is that it holds some of the answers to the financial crisis.

“We need to hold our nerve on the climate change agenda because it is so fundamentally important and because buried within it are also some of the answers to the global financial and economic crises,” he said.

The world is facing three major global crises – financial, energy and climate – he said, and although they did not have the same causes, they had a lot of other factors in common.

He added: “In each, there has tended to be a collective denial of the problem amongst decision makers over a long period of time despite growing concern and evidence from scientists and experts.”

But he warned that in some areas, the green agenda was already at risk of being neglected because of economic troubles.

“What we are now seeing is, because of the economic downturn, there’s a fall in demand for recyclable material that can be made into other products, particularly around the rest of the world.

“As a result, the chain is backing up and there are some local authorities saying ‘We can’t carry on collecting recyclable material, we are going to have to dump it all in landfill instead’.”

Hear his full speech to the EIC’s annual conference below.

Kate Martin

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