Hedgerows can address climate change, says new report

16th July 2019

We react to a report from the Committee on Climate Change calling for ambitious targets to address the emergency.

We’re happy to see that a report published by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) calls for ambitious targets to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ by 2050. This could end the UK’s contribution to global warming within 30 years.

The report suggests the policy changes that are needed from all government departments to meet this target – and they’re dramatic. It also calls for much more urgency and ambition from the government on many current plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We support the CCC in calling for an all-government approach to ensure that reaching a net-zero target is the top priority.

Tom Fyans, our deputy chief executive, said: ‘The climate emergency is the greatest threat facing the countryside. From prolonged heatwaves and moorland wildfires to severe and more frequent flooding, it’s under severe pressure from the impact of climate breakdown. But it can also provide many of the solutions.’

CPRE especially welcomes the recommendation for a 40% extension of the current network of hedgerows. An increase in hedgerow and tree planting would help with carbon capture and mitigate the impacts of climate change by alleviating floods, but they also create important habitats for wildlife and can improve air quality. We have long campaigned around the importance of hedgerows for our countryside and continue to emphasise their value in addressing the climate emergency.

Tom added: ‘We can drive carbon back into the ground by prioritising policies and funding that will see better land use, dramatically reducing emissions from agriculture and restoring our peatlands. Our transition to renewable energy must intensify and a deadline set for the phasing out of fossil fuels – and the government’s pro-fracking agenda must be dropped altogether.’

We also continue to call for the government to redirect their investment in road building and airport expansion towards developing cleaner, greener forms of public transport. This will not only reduce carbon emissions but also limit the amount of countryside lost to unnecessary road building, which increases traffic, congestion and carbon emissions.

There are so many ways that our countryside can help mitigate and limit the effects of climate change, and CPRE will keep working for the countryside to make sure it can play as great a role as possible.

Woman walking past hedgerow