3 November 2010
On Thursday (4th November), the Green Party will publish in full its submission to Defra's consultation on the natural environment.
Amongst a variety of proposed measures for improving the country's natural environment, the Greens want:
· UK fish stocks to be restored to 1950s levels.
· Tough penalties for companies that pollute.
· The measurement of the UK's carbon footprint to reflect emissions caused overseas in the manufacture of goods for the UK.
The Greens reiterated their call for an Environmental Rights Commission along the lines of the Equal Opportunities Commission. In its 22-year life, the Equal Opportunities Commission has brought test cases on, for example, pensions entitlements for part-time workers - cases that have meant justice for millions of women who had been discriminated against during their working lives. In the same way, a new Environmental Rights Commission could bring test cases in environmental human rights, protecting wildlife and biodiversity, or ensuring that new developments are truly "sustainable."
The Greens are also calling for a reformed Common Fisheries policy, consistent with the EU's own Marine Strategy Framework Directive. That requires member states to ensure "good environmental status" is achieved within their own waters by 2020, and that "good environmental status" should imply an ability to restore fish stocks to levels experienced in the 1950s. Fish caught in European waters have reached unprecedented low levels, with the EU itself declaring that 88% of stocks are overfished, and 30% of "traditional" fished species close to extinction.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion said: "We cannot keep seeing our natural environment as a resource to be exploited. We need a robust regulatory framework, funding for essential projects and prosecution of those companies that are responsible for pollution and other environmental damage. We also need strong mechanisms in place to monitor the use of non-renewable resources, as well as their impact upon carbon emissions.
Lucas continued: "It is the Green Party's view that equity is not in contradiction to shrinking the waste and pollution of our modern consumer society. Indeed, warmer homes, cheaper bills, employment opportunities in the manufacturing and building trades as well as more efficient and cheaper public transport are social levelers that can create a happier society as well as a more ecologically sustainable one."
Click here to read the Green Party's response to Defra's "Nature of England" consultation.