We commend Geraint Davies MP for calling for the Environment Bill to set the targets we need to reverse our environmental crisis (“Extinction Rebellion are right to be angry. The Environment Bill fails to live up to the crisis we’re in”).
Rather than rush to put every target on the face of the bill, however, we should ensure that independent, expert advice informs the right targets. If we set political targets, not science-based targets, we risk undermining the whole venture. That is why we need explicit, cross-party support for new legally binding environmental targets from every front bench and in every manifesto.
The challenge now is to ensure that the welcome ambition the government has shown on these targets becomes reality. The bill must be amended to ensure that the targets match the scale of the crisis, and include binding milestones along the way, so that long-term targets have short-term urgency to achieve the rapid changes we need.
We must also make sure that current key targets and commitments aren’t lost. Current EU commitments to make all our rivers healthy by 2027, no mean feat considering only 14 per cent reach this status now, could be removed by new powers in the bill to amend water targets and the way they are measured with little scrutiny. Plans to reach new air quality targets and sanctions for failure could also be weaker than the current EU equivalents.
If we are truly to turn around the future of our natural world, we need all parties to unite behind a strong, comprehensive framework of science-based targets for nature.
Dr Richard Benwell
CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link
Give us the Final Say
I read your editorial (“Let us have a Final Say”) and could not agree more: this parliamentary timeframe is becoming farcical and this deal, I feel, will be railroaded across the line if MPs are not very careful.
I cannot understand the rationale behind this obduracy not to give the British people the Final Say. This is such an important issue that we cannot just leave it to our elected members who are torn often between what their constituents want and what their own party dictates. The government cannot ignore the vast crowds of people who are demanding rightly, in my opinion, another vote, because we are so much more up to speed on Brexit than in 2016 when it was basically an unknown quantity.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Let’s finish what we didn’t start
Just to set the record straight, this mess wasn’t started by “the people”. It was started by David Cameron in an attempt to get “the people” to control his party when he couldn’t.
Nevertheless, l agree that we “the people” should now have the opportunity to finish the job – but only with all the information before us.
What did the people actually want?
The result of the Brexit referendum is absolutely not a licence to run roughshod over any barriers, be they legal, political, moral or just common sense, in order to implement Brexit at any cost.
On the contrary. The division we have seen is a strong signal to tread very carefully and avoid creating dangerous and long-lasting tensions in the country.
Now, the split has become so entrenched and embittered that the political system has become almost paralysed. It sometimes seems that politicians are guided by personal prestige and ambitions or by party tactics more than by a common desire to do what is best for the country.
The British people have spoken. When will our representatives face up to their responsibility and listen to what they really said?
A meaty issue
Well done for allowing farmers to have a voice (“Distressed’ farmers condemn Tesco vegetarian advert and suggest teenage girls should eat more meat”). Too bad you buried their objections within an article rife with misrepresentation. You state that global livestock emissions account for 14.5 per cent of the total and that this is “equivalent to all cars, trains, ships and aircraft combined”.
That statistic is designed to inflame, and betrays your biased agenda.
The truth is that livestock emissions are equal to those from transportation. The other fact is that they are utterly dwarfed by emissions from transportation, industry, and energy production combined. The final, uncomfortable truth is that emissions from non-livestock agriculture are almost the same as those for livestock, and in the US they are actually higher. Given that wheat, corn and soy have almost no nutritional value and are implicated in the rise of metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, we should be arguing for reduced consumption of these soil-destroying mono-crops so that we can free up land for wetland, forest and grazing.
To GDP or not to GDP
Geoff Naylor’s letter this week really hits the nail on the head. “Economics” needs to be redefined so that the degree of benefit or harm to humanity becomes the top priority driver of every economic activity instead of financial value as at present. As he says, there is an urgent need to measure this missing dimension.
We used have a “Gold Standard”. Today, perhaps, we need to base all our economic actions judged by a “Carbon Standard”?