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WWF comment ahead of the Queen’s Speech

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech on 21st June where the new UK Government will set out its priorities for the coming two years, WWF warns that, at a time of political uncertainty, we cannot allow action for the environment to be put on hold.

Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF commented:

“Regardless of the arithmetic in Parliament the UK Government must use this Queen’s Speech to start finally delivering on the environmental policies that have already been much delayed and are urgently needed.

“That means standing by our international commitments to tackle climate change and producing an ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions at home, and publishing the 25 year plan for how we will protect and restore our own nature, including chalk streams and rivers. And Ministers should also now produce the consultation on banning the UK’s ivory trade which we were waiting for before the General Election.

  1. Great Repeal Bill should not be used as an excuse to tear up the protections for wildlife, clean air and water that we all hold dear – Brexit wasn’t a mandate to do this, and it’s not what people want. Any proposals to change environmental laws through this Bill must get proper parliamentary scrutiny. The clock is ticking, and the Government must act now”.

Consider the following key environmental issues in the UK

  • The UK Government expenditure on environmental protection as a percentage of GDP has declined from 1% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2014 [1]
  • The UK’s environmental goods and services sector grew by 10.9% between 2010 and 2014. By 2014, the sector was contributing £29 billion to the UK economy in terms of value added (1.6% of GDP) and directly supporting an estimated 373,500 FTE jobs [2]
  • The UK government estimates that economic damage caused by flooding in England and Wales for the 2013/14 winter floods was £1.3 billion [3]
  • With pressures already on the NHS, the Royal College of Physicians estimates that each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution [4]
  • WWF’s Greener Budget highlighted evidence that showed that UK businesses could save £23billion in the space of one year through no-cost or low-cost resource efficiency measures, and generate half a million new jobs by 2030 by embracing the circular economy. [5]
  • WWF’s 2016 Living Planet Report showed that unless we act, wildlife populations will decline by 67% [6]
  • The Arctic is already on track to be largely free of sea ice in summer by the 2030s and over the past three decades has lost 65% of its sea ice thickness [7]

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/datasets/ukenvironmentalaccountsenvironmentalprotectionexpenditurebygeneralgovernmentunitedkingdom

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/bulletins/ukenvironmentalaccounts/2015-04-15

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501784/The_costs_and_impacts_of_the_winter_2013_to_2014_floods_-_report.pdf

[4] https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution

[5] http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/a_greener_budget_2016_report_download.pdf

[6] https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/landmark-report-shows-global-wildlife-populations-course-decline-67-cent-2020

[7] http://www.amap.no/documents/doc/Snow-Water-Ice-and-Permafrost.-Summary-for-Policy-makers/1532

Notes to editors

  1. Ahead of the General Election, WWF used its Nature Needs You campaign to highlight to all the parties what their priorities should be for the coming five years. We focused on three broad areas:
  • Global leadership on climate change, and the domestic plans to cut carbon emissions that are essential to back that up at home;
  • A long-term plan for the environment, which should tackle our footprint abroad, as well as improving how we protect our own wildlife and habitats; and
  • Action against the illegal wildlife trade that poses a huge threat to populations of iconic species including elephants, rhinos and tigers.
  1. WWF-UK is one of the largest and most experienced independent conservation organisations, with 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 90 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people can live in harmony with nature.
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