The government should face legally binding targets to force environmental action in areas beyond carbon emissions, a leading think tank has announced today.
IPPR is calling for a Sustainable Economy Act to be introduced that would levy binding targets on governments, forcing action to tackle water pollution, improve soil fertility, and enhance biodiversity.
The new Act would be modelled on the 2008 Climate Change Act, which sets strict targets for emissions levels in five yearly increments, and requires the government to report on its progress. But the Sustainable Economy Act would apply this approach to tackling all aspects of environmental breakdown, IPPR stressed, including binding targets for a range of green issues.
"The Climate Change Act and the UK's target of net-zero decarbonisation by 2050 effectively places a greenhouse gas constraint on the economy," said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR associate fellow and the paper's lead author. "It is vital that similar constraints are extended to all the areas of environmental breakdown. A Sustainable Economy Act can do this."
Today's release follows the publication of a sweeping report from the left-leaning think tank into the climate crisis earlier this year, which warned that the combination of global warming, soil infertility, pollinator loss, chemical leaching, and ocean acidification is creating a "new domain of risk", which is hugely underestimated by policymakers, businesses, and investors, despite the epic scale of the threats faced by human civilisation. The report warned climate breakdown could cause a systemic collapse far greater and wider ranging than the 2008 financial crash.
The think tank's new proposal for a new Sustainable Economy Act forms a central part of its suggested policy response to the threat. Alongside the new legislation, it wants to see a new Committee on Sustainability - a sister organisation to the Committee on Climate Change - established, and a new enforcement body introduced to hold the government to account on environmental regulations. The new body would have greater powers than the proposed Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) that the government plans to introduce post-Brexit, but which has faced fierce criticism from environmental groups for failing to fully replicate the enforcement powers enjoyed by EU bodies. The National Trust has today become the latest green body to call on the government to ensure the OEP is equipped with the "credibility, authority and resources" required to properly hold the government to account and ensure environmental standards are maintained.
IPPR, which is thought to be influential in Labour policy making, is also calling for "deeper changes to prevailing economic models", including a re-wiring of what it means to be prosperous in modern society.
Tags : environment