Major new report from IPPR warns the UK is 'acutely vulnerable' to escalating environmental breakdown
With much of the country once again baking in high summer temperatures and the Arctic Circle experiencing a record-breaking heatwave this month, IPPR has chosen a good time to release its latest report on the threats posed by "environmental breakdown".
The latest high temperatures follow a remarkably dry spring, which in turn followed a winter once again characterised by mild temperatures and major floods. It is a trend that IPPR warns the UK is both "acutely vulnerable" to and poorly prepared for.
The think tank's new report - which follows a year-long study into the risks presented by "environmental breakdown" - concludes the overall environmental crisis has reached critical levels that have been amplified by a "historic disregard" for the destruction of nature.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that the UK was not adequately prepared for the coronavirus pandemic," said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR Associate Fellow. "The threats posed by the environmental crisis could also emerge quickly and could overwhelm our capacity to respond. So the pandemic gives us a window into a future increasingly beset by the consequences of environmental breakdown.
"In the UK, we are not ready for this future - far from it. But all is not lost. We can be better prepared for environmental breakdown. And the changes we need to make to our society and economy are exactly those that can also make a happier, healthier and fairer world."
Echoing the raft of recent reports detailing how the UK can engineer a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis, the report - titled We are not ready: Policymaking in the age of environmental breakdown - sets out a series of policy proposals that could help reverse damaging environmental trends on multiple fronts.
Specifically it calls for a new Sustainable Economy Act to introduce a series of new legally-binding environmental targets, the appointment of a Minister for the Un Sustainable Development Goals, and the development of a "fair environmental foreign policy" that recognises the UK's historic contribution to environmental damage and mobilises £20bn of investment in the UN Green Climate Fund up to 2030.
It adds that such measures should be accompanied by a Royal Commission on Preparations for Environmental Breakdown that would "assess the UK's preparedness, covering everything from supply chains and resource management to foreign and security policy".
Luke Murphy, head of the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission, said that governments around the world needed to properly engage with escalating environmental risks.
"The lights on the environmental dashboard are flashing red," he said. "As we recover from the Covid-19 crisis, we must not accelerate headlong into another crisis for which we are not prepared. The UK should use the recovery from Covid-19 to transform its economy, to address climate change and increase preparedness, and tackle wider inequalities - all of this can and should be done at the same time.
"But the UK is not alone. Countries around the world are unprepared to tackle the crisis of environmental breakdown. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK can take a lead as host of COP 26 to try and help build an era of unprecedented global cooperation and a brighter future for all."
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