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Here's my three-point plan for Labour to take action in preserving the environment, according to George Monbiot.
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Here’s my three-point plan for Labour to take action in preserving the environment, according to George Monbiot.


I have a chance of being chosen for the national gymnastics team. However, for the sake of imagination, let’s pretend that I, like David Cameron, am being swept up by the UK’s fairy tale political system from my garden shed to the benches of the House of Lords, to serve as Labour’s shadow environment secretary. Here are three major policies that I would propose for inclusion in the party’s manifesto.

1. Strong and honest climate policies

Labour will adopt the climate and ecology bill proposed by the Zero Hour campaign, presented to parliament by Green MP Caroline Lucas in 2020. Unlike current environmental laws, this bill takes into account both scientific evidence and our international commitments. The UK has signed the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the government’s policies do not align with this goal. The fifth carbon budget, which outlines our climate targets for 2028-2032, is 36% higher than it would be if we were to adhere to the Paris agreement. Furthermore, the budget does not account for greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and shipping, as well as emissions from imported goods and services, which make up 43% of our total emissions. According to Zero Hour’s calculations, if these factors are included, our greenhouse gas emissions have actually only decreased by 23% since 1990, rather than the 48% reported by official figures.

Meanwhile, several of our critical ecosystems are reaching their tipping points. Consider the River Wye, which, along with numerous other rivers, is burdened with excessive amounts of livestock manure, leading to an imminent ecological breakdown. Many of these jeopardized ecosystems serve as crucial carbon sinks, and their decline moves us further away from meeting our commitments to global climate action.

The proposed legislation would require the government to restrict our overall emissions to the amount that corresponds to the UK’s portion of the global carbon budget, with a 67% likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 1.5C. It aims to swiftly eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and rejuvenate and enlarge our natural environments.

Provide genuine safeguarding for at-risk areas of land and water.

I am now introducing my second policy, which aligns with a global agreement that was publicly declared by Boris Johnson in 2020: to safeguard 30% of our land and ocean by 2030. Interestingly, Johnson was not entirely sincere when he made this pledge. His administration soon revealed that 26% of our land and 38% of our seas were already under protection.

The government’s intention was to create boundaries on a map that encompass areas where nature lacks significant protection. A majority of our national parks are in a state of ecological disaster, due to heavy grazing by sheep and deer or intentional burning for grouse hunting. Despite being labeled as “marine protected areas,” our oceans still face repeated damage from trawlers. A recent study published in Global Ecology and Conservation reveals that only 5% of the UK’s land surface meets international standards for preserving nature, while England falls short at just over 3%. Shockingly, only 0.53% of English seas are safeguarded from harmful industries like fishing, dredging, and construction.

The Labour party will fulfill Johnson’s unfulfilled pledge and uphold the UK’s promise in the global biodiversity framework by protecting 30% of our land and sea. This will involve creating a strategy for land and sea use, determining which areas are suitable for agriculture and fishing and which areas should be restored to their natural state. This will promote a fair transition towards a more environmentally friendly rural economy.

Implement a real measure of progress instead of using GDP.

Currently, our efforts to make our country more environmentally friendly and equitable are hindered by the method we use to assess our progress. As part of my third major policy, I propose to remove the reliance on GDP as a broad measure of our success and instead use more suitable metrics. There are numerous suggestions for what a true progress index could entail, and therefore, the Labour party plans to initiate a discussion and involve citizens’ assemblies in determining the most effective approach.

Instead of just measuring GDP, our index would also consider factors such as health, education, housing, environmental quality, employment, leisure time, cost of living, equality, inclusivity, and democratic engagement. These aspects are currently measured but are often overshadowed by GDP, which includes both positive and negative aspects like having to repair a flooded home. Our index focuses on overall wellbeing rather than just economic growth.

I am aware that they desire it. Therefore, I will continue to wait here for their call. Hello? I am ready whenever you are, guys. The signal must have dropped again.

  • and author who primarily focuses on environmental and political issues.

    George Monbiot is a writer and journalist for The Guardian, with a main focus on topics related to the environment and politics.

Source: theguardian.com