Boris Johnson is being urged to make tackling climate change his New Year resolution.
Conservation charities have written to the prime minister calling for him and the UK Government to restore peatland faster, bring forward the ban on peat in horticulture, and to increase marine protection measures.
The letter, written by The National Trust, RSPB, The Woodland Trust and Wildlife Trusts, also asks Mr Johnson to make sure the new payment system for farmers ensures nature and climate-friendly farming, and to boost tree planting by planting more native trees.
Seven pledges to tackle climate change
The charities have set out seven New Year resolutions they want the prime minister to agree to, including ensuring the network of protected sites is both big enough and sufficiently well-managed enough to protect nature and the carbon stored within them.
Other pledges are for a new duty that requires future climate risks and hazards to be taken into account in all public decision-making, and supporting the changes needed to help adapt to the impact of climate change.
The charities also say while the government’s commitment to restore 30% of land and sea by 2030 for nature is welcome, they warn only 3% of land can currently be said to be specifically protected for nature.
COP26 ‘real watershed moment’
In their letter to Mr Johnson the charities say the prime minister needs to build on the pledges made at the COP26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow last year.
Hilary McGrady, director general of The National Trust, says COP26 felt like “a real watershed moment” in the fight against the nature and climate crises, but warns the UK is already seeing the devastating impact of extreme weather events such as Storm Arwen.
She said: “This is why we are today calling on the prime minister to build on the pledges made at COP26 and commit to a series of New Year resolutions to nature that ensure our natural defences against climate change are protected and nurtured in 2022 and beyond.”
Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of The Woodland Trust, added: “For nature and climate, 2022 will be just as critical as 2021 was.
“We need the UK to show real leadership in the major international conferences on climate and biological diversity.
“To back this up, all parts of the UK need to deliver decisive action, setting clear targets to restore nature, and working with land managers to create tree-rich resilient landscapes for people, nature and carbon.”
UK Government ‘absolutely committed’
The UK Government however says it is “absolutely committed” to tackling climate change.
A spokesperson said: “We are taking action to limit rising temperatures, with new pledges to cut carbon and methane emissions, end deforestation, phase out coal and provide more finance to countries most vulnerable to climate change.”
They added England’s new sustainable farming incentive will reward land managers for using more environmentally-friendly farming practices, while the government is also consulting on plans to phase out the use of peat in horticulture sector and promoting the sustainable management of peat habitats.