Make the government machine go green

WWF-UK has set out how the next government could put powerful voices for sustainability at the heart of the Whitehall machine, driving long-term action on species and habitat loss, pollution and climate change.

As part of our campaign to encourage all political parties to commit to better stewardship of the environment in the run-up to the general election, and to ensure the next government builds a clean economy fit for the 21st Century, WWF-UK is calling for, among other things:

  • A 25-year plan on the environment, overseen by a new Office of Environmental Responsibility to hold government to account.
  • The appointment of a Cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury, responsible for ensuring the economy is resource-efficient and low-carbon.
  • The inclusion of environmental risks such as flooding and climate change in the UK National Security Strategy’s remit.
Launching the report Greening the Machinery of Government by former government adviser Duncan Brack at a reception in the House of Commons, WWF-UK’s Director of Advocacy Trevor Hutchings said:

“If backed by real political will, these reforms would ensure Whitehall works more efficiently to deliver sustainable growth. They would help address threats to our environment and put our economy – which is dependent on the goods and services that nature provides – on a more resilient footing.”

The report set outs how current government systems and structures do not encourage Whitehall departments to work together to tackle environmental issues. For example, the projected share of total energy investment and transport spending on high-carbon fossil fuels, roads and airports for 2014-15 has risen from 15% to 49%, suggesting that wider objectives to reduce emissions will be difficult to achieve. Better joined-up government, with the environment a central consideration, could help avoid such contradictory policy approaches.

Putting the environment at the heart of economic policy would strengthen the development of lucrative green technologies, boosting prosperity. Decarbonising industry and protecting nature would improve health and social wellbeing: improving urban air quality alone could save up to £20 billion in avoided health costs.

Read Greening the Machinery of Government report and the suppliment here

Andy Murray pays tribute to fiancée as Murray and Sears start work in Nepal

Murray (left) and Sears in Chitwan National Park, Nepal (MG_8319) © Akash Shrestha  WWF-Nepal

Andy Murray has paid tribute to his fiancée by naming the companion of his sponsored sniffer dog in her honour.

The two dogs, Murray and Sears, have started work in Nepal as part of Chitwan’s sniffer dog programme, which is supported by WWF, to tackle poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Andy’s tribute comes in the same month as the Botswana government hosts an international conference in Kasane on illegal wildlife trade.

Tennis ace and WWF global ambassador, Andy Murray has been supporting WWF’s fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade since November 2014. The British number one is particularly passionate about raising awareness for WWF’s initiative in Nepal that supports the use and training of dogs to track down poaching activity in and around Chitwan National Park.

Last year, WWF named one of the new puppies in the elite sniffer dog team in honour of Murray’s support for WWF’s wildlife crime initiative.

Andy Murray said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to name the companion of my namesake dog. Dogs love companionship and I hope this partnership will aid them, as they work to tackle poaching in Nepal. March is an important month in the fight against poaching with the Botswana government hosting an international conference on illegal wildlife trade so it’s great to be involved in WWF’s initiative during this pivotal moment.”

The two dogs have been through training together in a specialised training centre in India where they learnt to sniff out evidence of poaching and track routes used by poachers. Murray and Sears now live together in Chitwan National Park with their dog handlers.

Heather Sohl, Chief Species Advisor at WWF-UK said: “Andy naming the companion of his sponsored sniffer dog after his fiancée is testament to Andy’s interest in this issue. We’re delighted that we can work with Andy to tackle wildlife crime ahead of the Kasane conference on illegal wildlife trade on 25th March 2015. The meeting follows last year’s conference in London where 41 governments committed to taking “decisive and urgent action….” through the agreed declaration.”

As part of a global programme to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade, WWF also promotes the use of other innovative approaches, such as patrolling using real-time GPS-enabled mobile sets, using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor, detect and deter poaching - along with the use of sniffer dogs.

Join in the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #endwildlifecrime @wwf_uk

Green opportunities missed with Budget 2015

Cover photo from the WWF-UK report A Greener Budget

David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF-UK today said that “opportunity knocked but the Chancellor only partially opened the door to greener, smarter growth” in response to George Osborne’s budget speech.  

Welcoming the only major piece of good news for the environment, government support for an ambitious new plan to harness the power of Britain’s tides, he said “Backing for Swansea’s new tidal lagoon recognises that clean energy is an essential part of our future. But a greener budget would have sent a much clearer message that dirty fuels need to be phased out, rather than offering them tax breaks.”

The Budget offered very little action to decarbonise industry or reshape the economy for a sustainable future, concentrating instead on providing a boost to the oil sector and reducing the cost of petrol at the pumps.

David Nussbaum continued:

“The Chancellor could have created jobs and boosted growth through long-term incentives for clean technologies. Giving the Green Investment Bank access to private capital would help more enterprises prosper. And reasserting the role of the Natural Capital Committee would ensure more prudent management of the natural resources on which our economy depends.

“With the threat posed by climate change and environmental degradation, we face a global challenge that our political leaders must address head on. As we approach the general election all parties should put green economics front and centre of their manifestos.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband, in his response to the speech, said that a Labour Government would take climate change seriously and establish a ‘proper green investment bank’. WWF is urging all political parties to put the environment at the heart of their plans for sustainable economic growth.

WWF-UK’s A Greener Budget report called for this and future budgets to:

  • Promote the protection and improvement of natural capital, building on the work and recommendations of the Natural Capital Committee.
  • Drive innovation and investment in resource efficiency.
  • Provide incentives for growth in low carbon industries, including through a major programme of investment as part of the Government’s long-term infrastructure plan.
  • Ensure that government expenditure promotes sustainability.
  • Promote a more resilient and sustainable financial system.