Historic UK Vote Casts Uncertainty on Future of Climate Policy
The UK voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union in a historic referendum last night. Prime Minister David Cameron is resigning in the wake of the vote and markets reacted immediately, as the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar in 30 years.
Many climate and energy experts, including Christiana Figures, had been outspoken about the potential danger for EU and UK climate policy if the UK were to leave.
Without the UK involved, it is unlikely that the EU would revise up its current 40 percent emissions reduction target, experts say. The "leave" vote and change in government also raises uncertainty about domestic policies. Craig Bennett, head of Friends of the Earth, said the leave vote was a “red alert” for the environment.
Greens/European Free Alliance co-president Philippe Lamberts said in response to the UK vote:
“There can be no doubt that this vote will have a dramatic impact across Europe and the globe. The UK vote is an extreme disappointment but it cannot be the beginning of a domino effect within the EU. The response of European governments must now be to work together to deliver a decisive response, which can shore up confidence in the EU.
“While there were clearly various motivations behind those who voted to leave the EU, there can be no doubt that some of the disillusionment with the European project is shared by many citizens beyond the UK. From the outset, the European project aimed at ensuring lasting peace through the extension of freedom, democracy and shared prosperity. Reconnecting with that ambition is what is needed to address the many legitimate reasons behind this public dissatisfaction and ensure the EU can win back the support of citizens.
“We remain committed to this project and believe we need to highlight the major positive benefits the EU has delivered and the potential it has to allow us to respond to today’s global challenges. In a globalised world, there is no sovereignty if not shared.”
Greens/European Free Alliance co-president Rebecca Harms added:
"We seriously regret the outcome of the referendum. The Greens have always strongly believed that the EU provides by far the best platform for delivering peace and stability and confronting the global challenges we face. In the course of the divisive campaign, there was a concerted effort to delegitimize the EU. However, this vote is also the consequence of the widespread uncertainty and mistrust of the EU, which exists not only in the UK but also in other parts of the EU.
“This vote is a wake-up call for the EU. All pro-European forces need to be self-critical and seek answers to why there is a growing gap to citizens in Europe. We cannot continue with business-as-usual. This means improving how the EU works and, in particular, strengthening democracy and transparency. Without prejudging the outcome of any change, there is also a need to strengthen the involvement of democratic institutions, both the European and national parliaments, in the EU process."
For a deeper dive:
Commentary: The Guardian, Damian Carrington column; Climate Home, Ed King column; Politico, Sara Stefani column; BusinessGreen, James Murray column; Carbon Pulse analysis; Climate Home, Robin Webster op-ed
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.