CPRE responds to the new ‘tentative’ government net-zero carbon strategy

20th October 2021

The government has finally released its long-awaited strategy to help the country reach net-zero carbon emissions and tackle climate change. We appraise the opportunities for the countryside.

The government has promised a decisive and ambitious strategy on carbon emissions for some time, with Boris Johnson saying in 2020: ‘Let’s make this year the moment when we come together with the courage and the technological ambition to solve man-made climate change and to choose a cleaner and greener future for all our children and grandchildren.’

Now the net-zero strategy has been published – and we feel it’s too tentative.

We’ve long been calling for the power of the countryside to be harnessed to help address the climate crisis. Seemingly-innocuous features of our landscapes such as peat bogs and hedgerows can be used to suck in carbon, help biodiversity, cut flooding and much more.

But the new strategy misses some of these vital opportunities – and lacks ambition in other areas.

‘Far too tentative’

Our chief executive, Crispin Truman, comments on the strategy, identifying the seriousness of the challenge ahead:

‘The government’s net-zero strategy is far too tentative at a time when we need bold action.’

‘The climate emergency is the single greatest threat we face – we simply cannot skimp on investing in solutions as the costs of doing nothing will be far, far higher for future generations.’

'The government's net-zero strategy is far too tentative at a time when we need bold action.'
Crispin Truman, CPRE chief executive

Crispin also notes that the countryside holds the key to helping with this threat: ‘We know that the countryside also holds many of the solutions to rapidly ridding ourselves of the carbon emissions that fuel runaway climate change.’

The answers in our landscapes

In the face of the most existential threat to the countryside, we want to see countryside solutions being taken up with meaningful investment.

As Crispin says, ‘Restoring our hedgerows, peatlands and woodlands, while changing agricultural practices, are some of the most effective ways to ramp up action to tackle the climate emergency.’

So it’s time to see a budget that really puts the climate at its heart. We’re calling on the Chancellor to go much further in next week’s Spending Review and commit to more investment in nature-based solutions. This would make a statement, in advance of the COP26 major UN climate conference in Glasgow in November, that the government is committed to tackling climate change.

As Crispin puts it: ‘With COP26 just days away, and climate breakdown a living reality, anything less would be unacceptable.’

Want to campaign for climate and the countryside?

If, like us, you love your local countryside and green spaces and are worried about the effects of climate change, then why not join us and add your voice to our campaigns?

Members can join for as little as £3 a month, and we use your support to keep pushing for a better future for the countryside – for everyone. Learn more about being a CPRE member, or make a one-off donation, now.

A tractor with some passengers drives on a flooded rural lane
A tractor drives through flood waters in Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire Jon Whitton via Flickr (CC BY NC-ND 2.0)