Whitehall urgently needs to share more power with cities, towns and rural areas to tackle the growing environmental crisis, according to a new report.
A new paper by the think tank IPPR warns that UK’s current political system is ‘dangerously unprepared’ to tackle issues like climate change and needs urgent reform.
It notes that notes that many local authorities have already declared climate emergencies and are reducing their emissions, but that there is no current requirement for them to do so, nor do they have sufficient resources or powers.
It follows calls earlier this year from IPPR North for a ‘Plan for Nature in the North’ including substantial, long-term and devolved funding from central government of roughly £50-100 billion over the next 25 years.
The report also calls for citizens’ juries and citizens’ assemblies, which can explore complex issues to be set up.
And it recommends ministers set up a new citizens’ assembly on environmental breakdown, along the lines of the current parliamentary assembly on climate change, but to be commissioned by the UK government, to report in November just before COP26, the next major international meeting on the climate and nature crisis.
‘Environmental breakdown is the toughest political issue we as a society have ever faced, and our political system is dangerously unprepared and exposed to this threat,’ said IPPR associate director, Luke Murphy.
‘We must build a new politics that is better suited to responding to environmental breakdown, one that is green, local and inclusive. And one that helps in the vital task of re-building public trust in collective action.
‘Delivering in practice will require a radical decentralisation of power across the whole of the UK and new deliberative processes which genuinely engage the public and incorporate their views more directly into decision making,’ added Mr Murphy.
‘Failure to reform our political system risks the threat of environmental breakdown being left unaddressed – and as the world becomes more destabilised, space for progressive politics could shrink, benefiting extremist groups and populist leaders at the expense of democracy and justice.’
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