We comment on the citizens' assembly on climate change report and say: remember the power of the countryside

17th September 2020

The countryside has huge untapped potential to tackle the climate emergency, says our chief executive Crispin Truman.

The first UK-wide citizens assembly on climate change has released its final report. We celebrate the public appetite that it shows for tackling climate change, but as Crispin Truman, our chief executive says, this appetite ‘far outstrips government action.’

The Climate Assembly report shows that the public recognises a need for nature-based solutions, supporting initiatives like more tree and hedgerow planting and restoring peatlands.

Here at CPRE, we’re flagging up the possibilities that the countryside can offer for helping address the climate crisis. As Crispin puts it:

‘The countryside has huge untapped potential. Right now, the government is consulting on strategies covering both peat and trees and has a golden opportunity to end the degradation of peatlands by 2030 while ramping up tree planting ambitions.’

A desire for greener travel

We were also encouraged to see the Climate Assembly report showing high demand for affordable low carbon public transport. This is in stark contrast to the current government plans to spend £27 billion on roads, which suggests an administration out of step with demand.

Crispin makes the case for this huge sum of money to be spent on better enabling local connectivity, commenting that ‘this funding should be diverted to reconnecting communities, especially in largely disconnected rural areas, with low carbon public transport that fits into everyday lives.’

All in all, the report indicates public readiness and indeed willingness to reduce carbon. Eyes now turn to the government to make good on this. In Crispin’s words:

‘The Climate Assembly has made it very clear there can be no more avoiding tough choices and the public are ready.

‘It’s critical the government provides leadership now and delivers deep and rapid cuts to carbon emissions that are being called for.’

A fingerpost pointing to a cycle route