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‘Greener, better, faster’

CPRE unveils how the countryside holds the key to tackling the climate emergency
Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod
'Greener, better, faster'

With the chancellor poised to unveil his ‘mini budget’, CPRE, the countryside charity, has called for ‘a radical rethink’ of the role of the countryside in tackling the climate emergency.

In its new report, ‘Greener, better, faster: countryside solutions to the climate emergency and for a green recovery’, the charity is calling for the countryside to be at the forefront of climate action so that rural communities do not bear the brunt of the climate emergency.

The report sets out how the countryside can be at the centre of the transformation to a net-zero society, to ensure we tackle the climate emergency in a way that benefits people living and working in rural communities.

The power of the countryside

‘Greener, better, faster’ was launched at a virtual panel discussion attended by Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Luke Pollard MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Former Leader of the Green Party and Freddie Northcott, youth climate activist.

‘Whatever breathing space we had to tackle the climate emergency has already been used up. But some of the best ways to reduce our emissions also make our countryside more resilient, so let’s harness the awesome power of our countryside and rural communities to tackle the climate emergency head-on.

‘That means properly investing in rural public transport, delivering renewables sensitively and investing in nature-based solutions like peatland restoration and hedgerows.

‘The PM’s ‘build, build, build’ strategy fell far short of this – the government cannot continue to ignore public support for building back better, including for enhancing and protecting countryside and green spaces.

‘That’s why we’re calling on the chancellor to go further to ensure that, in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, we get on a path to net-zero. Let’s harness the power of the countryside instead of locking in larger carbon emissions. Only then will we be going greener, better, faster.’

Chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity

The countryside is key to tackling the climate emergency and provides many of the solutions to addressing climate breakdown. In ‘Greener, better, faster’, CPRE sets out a number of opportunities and recommendations for the government.

Farming and hedgerows

For farming, it says an action plan is needed for the land use sector to rapidly re-wet and restore peatland, expand woodland and agroforestry, drive uptake of agroecological practices to boost soil health and drive down emissions from inefficient use of synthetic nutrients.

CPRE says investment is required in the restoration and planting of England’s hedgerows, to achieve at least a 40% increase in their length by 2050.

Buildings, renewables and transport

Building regulations should be radically tightened to ensure that new buildings meet zero carbon standards. Existing buildings should also meet zero carbon standards in terms of heat and space.

CPRE also highlights the importance of investment in a new generation of renewables, including solar, wind and hydro, that are strategically planned at the national, sub-regional and local levels.

This should be done in a way that benefits the rural economy, forming a cornerstone of local enterprise and jobs. It should be supported by or owned by local communities, bring net benefits to wildlife and minimise impacts on landscape, tranquillity and cultural heritage.

Finally, the charity says the £27 billion planned road spend should be diverted to a ring-fenced rural transport fund to support low-carbon public transport services for rural communities that need to be better connected.

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