United for Nature
A new petition – United for Nature – has been launched by the Zero Hour Alliance, calling on Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to reverse nature loss by 2030 (against the 2020 baseline) through a legally-binding target.
The Zero Hour Alliance is the group that campaigned for the ‘Climate and Ecology Bill’ [formerly the climate and ecological emergency bill (CEE)] that was first introduced in the UK parliament in September 2020. An updated version of the bill was presented to the House of Lords in June 2022. The climate and ecology bill provides a comprehensive plan for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels so that global temperature rise can be limited to 1.5℃ and steps to halt and reverse the destruction of nature. The bill is supported by the UKHACC and other organisations, MPs, political parties, and councils.
The “United for Nature” petition is advocated by bird watcher and activist, Dr Mya-Rose Craig. The UK is championing for the world to become nature positive by 2030 at the United Nations Biodiversity Summit (COP15) scheduled to be held from 7-19 December 2022 in Canada. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, the addition of this ambition of ceasing biodiversity loss and allowing nature to restore itself to the legislation would ensure that the UK sets a leading example globally.
From a health perspective, as highlighted in the Lancet Countdown on Climate Change and Health policy brief for the UK published in October 2022, there is ample evidence of the positive impacts of biodiversity-rich greenspaces on the physical and mental health and well-being of the human population. It was also evident during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns that the people who did not have access to gardens or greenspaces were more adversely affected. Additional benefits of greenspaces include their cooling effects in cities and urban areas (reduction of urban heat island effect) and lowering the level of air pollution. If everyone in England had access to green space it is estimated that £2.1 billion per annum in health costs and £111 million per annum from GP visits could be saved. Thus, the protection of nature and reversal of biodiversity loss would have significant economic gains through reduced health costs for the UK government.
The Climate and Ecology Bill and the preservation of nature are elemental for a just climate action that would have a positive impact on human health. Show your support for the United for Nature petition by the Zero Hour alliance by signing the petition.
This piece is written by Anandita Pattnaik, policy officer at the UKHACC.