WWF urges policymakers to restore nature at scale this decade

The UK ranks among the most nature-depleted nations globally.

Launched today (14 March), the manifesto emphasises the need for legally binding environmental targets and highlights the urgency for swift action by the next UK Government, as a general election looms on the horizon.

The UK ranks among the most nature-depleted nations globally, placing in the bottom 10% and holding the last position among the G7 group. 

According to a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, three in five respondents (62%) believe that politicians are not doing enough to tackle climate change.

Additionally, nearly a third (31%) of respondents feel that the Government’s efforts in addressing climate change have diminished over the past year.

Official Government polling last year revealed that 71% of over-16s in the UK do not believe the nation is on track to meet its legally binding 2050 net-zero target.

Moreover, the YouGov survey highlights that one in five (20%) UK adults consider the environment as one of the top three most important issues currently facing the country.

WWF’s manifesto outlines a blueprint for action, calling for strong legislation – a Living Planet Act – to ensure science-based action and accountability for meeting climate, nature and nutritional targets.

WWF’s chief executive Tanya Steele said: “Our polling shows that there is clear support from the public for politicians to prioritise the environment.

“We urge all parties in this election year to commit to protecting people who are facing rising bills and food insecurity, by rewiring our economy to be nature and climate-positive, from the way we heat our homes and the way we travel, to the way we grow and buy our food.”

Blueprint for nature action

The manifesto urges the Government to ensure that UK’s land and sea use supports climate, nature and food security now and in the future.

As per the Environment Act 2021, the Government has a legal duty to stop the decline of species abundance and protect 30% of the land and sea for nature. WWF wants to see this top-level commitment bolstered with supporting policies.

Additionally, the manifesto advocates for a ‘21st Century Framework for Finance and the Green Economy’, aiming to turbocharge net-zero through effective public investment and increased private finance.

It also calls for aligned company transition plans for climate and nature and the development of national and sector-by-sector plans for a nature-positive future.

Last year, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures’ (TNFD) framework was launched, with an aim to mitigate the industrial impact on nature by encouraging comprehensive reporting on businesses’ environmental footprint and properly integrating nature-related considerations in their strategies.

Since then, the Government has been urged by the green groups to establish a roadmap for the enforcement of mandatory disclosures in line with the TNFD.

Lastly, the manifesto advocates for policymaking for a resilient future for food and farming, supporting farmers to cut emissions and restore nature, setting core environmental standards for trade and food imports, and ending the UK’s contribution to deforestation and land degradation globally.

Steele added: “There is no time to lose if we are to tackle the triple challenge of ensuring that how we use our land and seas supports our climate, nature and food security now and in the future.”

The UK Government has progressed some policy changes in this space in recent times. The Environment Act includes measures that will enact a ban on imported forest commodities linked to illegal deforestation, for example, and farmer payment schemes are being reformed to compensate farmers for protecting and restoring nature as well as producing food.

However, WWF and other NGOs have called on the deforestation ban to be expanded to cover technically legal deforestation, and to be implemented urgently. Moreover, the farmer payment schemes are starting to become a crux for disinformation amid farmers’ protests in the UK and mainland Europe. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the Welsh Government’s proposals to subsidise tree planting on farms “damaging” and “shocking.

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