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New PM must ‘Restore Nature Now’ as one of top priorities

11 July 2024

The organisations behind the largest public demonstration in the General Election run-up (including the National Trust, WWF-UK, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts,and Extinction Rebellion) have urged the new Prime Minister to make tackling the nature and climate crisis one of the top priorities of the new Labour government. With 5 major challenges they say the new Government needs to address for nature.

The Restore Nature Now march (which happened just two weeks ago on 22 June) saw an estimated 60,000-80,000 people march to Parliament. Backed by celebrities like Dame Judi Dench and Emma Thompson, 400 organisations, and nature lovers from different walks of life, the march showed the strength of public feeling for nature with so many people taking to the streets. Further big events from nature and climate organisations are expected to keep the environment firmly in the spotlight in the new administration, including days of action with new MPs, a mass lobby , and the first UK Nature Conference.

Nature and climate are issues UK Labour voters really care about. A majority of adults in the UK (57%) say that the environment in the UK is in a bad state. But Labour voters are far more likely to believe that the environment in the UK is in a bad condition, 75% compared to 64% of Lib Dem voters and 43% of Conservative voters.[1] 83% of Labour voters say they are worried about the impact of climate change and 87% are worried about declining wildlife numbers, while 55% said they have felt actively anxious about the future of the environment in the last month.[2]

Naturalist and explorer Steve Backshall said:
“The UK is an island of nature lovers. Yet the vast majority of people in the UK don’t think our politicians are doing enough to protect our natural world for future generations. That’s a major problem, and one that the new government has an opportunity to turn a fresh page on. From river pollution to declining wildlife populations the government has a huge mountain to climb for nature’s recovery. We need this to be a government with major commitment and substantial investment to Restore Nature Now.”

Chris Packham, TV broadcaster and environmental campaigner, said:
“Less than 2 weeks before a general election people moved from their sofas to the streets to demonstrate their frustration at political failures around biodiversity and nature. Our next government needs to hit the ground running in this escalating ecological crisis; ground that is parched from drought, flooded, overgrazed, burnt, saturated with pollutants… alarmingly devoid of life.

“This wasn’t a one-off event, easy to ignore by politicians, industry and media… this was the start of a new movement who will not stand by while nature is annihilated. We don’t just want our message to be ‘heard’, we want it to be acted on. Now.”

Daze Aghaji, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion UK, said:
"The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries worldwide and we know that drastic and radical action needs to be taken to halt harm and restore the natural world. But the only way to restore nature wholeheartedly and for the long term is to recognise that humanity is part of nature and fighting for social justice is part of the struggle towards a just world for all life on earth and the earth itself.

“The only way we can do the full restoration work is by making sure our decision-making structures are fit to address this crisis. This is why we need a truly democratic system which mimics the collaborative function of nature - one where everyone has a seat at the decision-making table. We know from the tens of thousands of people who showed up to the March when we give people the opportunity to show what matters to them, that nature is an utmost priority."

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB said:
“Nature doesn’t have a voice, but we do, and we’ll be continuing to speak up loudly for nature together. Labour has made some welcome commitments on the environment, but we need these to be backed up with immediate action to ensure nature’s recovery and economic growth advance together, as well as a major funding increase if we are to meet the fast-approaching 2030 deadlines to protect and restore nature. We still have a crucial window of opportunity to rewrite the story of nature’s decline, and that’s why we urgently need to see the new Government prioritise it. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK said:
The new government has been elected at a time when there is a wave of public support for progress on climate and nature. This government has the opportunity – and the responsibility – to lead the world in creating a safer, more stable future for generations to come. They have talked the talk on climate leadership, but now it’s time to walk the walk and deliver immediate, ambitious action with people and nature at its heart. We need new funding, new legislation, and new ambition to restore a thriving natural world for people and wildlife and secure a future of clean water, clean air, healthy food and a stable climate.

Campaigners have warned of ongoing declines of vulnerable and beloved species such as nightingales and puffins (90% of which could be lost by 2050), and a quarter of UK mammals are at risk of extinction(such as the water vole, pine marten, hazel dormouse, and the Grey long-eared bat). Habitats and landscapes are also at risk with estimates that just over 3% of land and a maximum of 8% of the seas around the UK are effectively protected for nature.

Tackling the nature and climate crisis is a massive challenge for the next Government due to the major investment needed, with campaigners calling, for example, for a doubling of the nature-friendly farming budget to £6 billion. But there are also huge opportunities for the Government to make those who are causing nature’s decline pay for its restoration, for example through a levy to make polluting big businesses pay for the damage caused to water, air and soils.The campaigners supporting the Restore Nature Now march have issued 5 main challenges to politicians on the action needed for nature.

A pay rise for nature
- the nature and climate-friendly farming budget doubled.
Make polluters pay
- new rules to make polluters contribute to nature and climate recovery
More space for nature
- to expand and improve protected areas, and ensure public land and National Parks contribute more to recovery.
A right to a healthy environment
- an Environmental Rights Bill, which would drive better decisions for nature, improve public health and access to high-quality nature.
Fair and effective climate action
- increasing home energy efficiency, supporting active travel and public transport, and replacing polluting fossil fuels with affordable renewables.


Notes to Editors:

Figures from YouGov Plc.
Voting preference based on vote in the 2019 General Election. Total sample size was 2,054 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 16th May 2024.. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Polling from YouGov Plc.
Voting preference based on vote in the 2019 General Election. Total sample size was 2,369 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13-14 June 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- 70% of UK adults on average say they are worried about the impact of climate change - 54% Cons voters, 83% Labour and 86% Lib Dem.
- 81% of the population as a whole say they are worried about declining wildlife populations - 76% Cons, 87% Labour and 89% Lib Dem
- 46% of UK adults say they have felt actively anxious about the state of the environment in the last month - 35% Cons, 55% Labour and 57% Lib - Dem.

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