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Green groups set tests for environmental leadership

Tracy Carty

1st March, 2007

The attention that the three main parties are now giving to the environment is welcome, but no party is yet offering leadership of the kind needed.

Although climate change has risen up the political agenda, environmental groups from Greenpeace to the National Trust maintain that the three main parties are still showing little appetite for effective action. The parties need to develop policies commensurate with the scale of the challenges facing us in relation to climate change, the countryside and wildlife.

As a response to this, a coalition of environmental NGOs have joined forces to set a new standard for political debate on the environment and shape the battle for environmental leadership between the political parties.  With over five million supporters, we have come together to highlight the primary challenges for political leaders in The Green Standard: Tests for environmental leadership, which was launched earlier this week (

The tests, outlined below, were launched at an event attended by the environment secretary, David Miliband, the shadow environment secretary, Peter Ainsworth, and the Liberal Democrats' environment spokesman, Chris Huhne.

The Green Standard: Tests for environmental leadership

UK action on climate change
Achieve reductions in UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 3% year on year, en route to a low-carbon economy based on energy efficiency, renewable sources of energy and decentralised energy.

International action on climate change
Provide international leadership to restrict global temperature rises to 2°C and ensure worldwide emissions are falling by 2015.

Green living
Make it cheaper and easier for individuals to reduce their environmental impact through tax, regulation, information and other powers of government.

Natural environment
Protect and enhance the beauty, accessibility and wildlife of the environment in our countryside, towns and seas through incentives, regulation, investment and other powers of government.

Value, support and develop our planning system as a democratic tool for protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment of our countryside and towns.

Environmental tax and subsidies

Green the tax system by increasing the amount of revenue from taxes that reduce environmental damage, and eliminate environmentally perverse subsidies. 

The electorate is making it increasingly clear that they want effective action.  We urge all parties to seize the moment and adopt an approach that is fit for the future. The coalition of NGOs will publish regular assessments of each party’s performance in the run up to the next General Election.  The first assessment will be in September ahead of the annual party conferences.  May the best party win.

The coalition includes CPRE, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and WWF. 

This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2007


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