A curious introduction to the Nature and Climate Declaration

By Helen Steiger 

We’ve written about the Climate and Ecology Bill (previously known as the Climate and Ecological Emergency, or CEE Bill) (and why it’s so darn cool) before. This week, we have new news, and new developments, as the team behind the Bill, Zero Hour, begin taking further action to bring nature and climate into parliamentary discussion with the upcoming COP15 conference on Biodiversity. 

Speaking with the team at Zero Hour, we have carried out a curious deep-dive into these latest developments for you. Enjoy, it’s an excellent example of how we, the people, can use our collective voice and power to push for real, systemic change in legislation and political power! 

I missed the previous article, what is the Climate and Ecology Bill and the campaign?

The Climate and Ecology Bill is a cross-party bill, calling for urgent action on climate and nature, which are both in crisis. It was first presented in parliament in September 2020. The campaign has sought to encourage mass mobilisation around this topic…and it is succeeding! The campaign now has over 200 councils passing a motion in support of the Bill, 151 MPs and Peers back the Bill and 450 other non-parliamentary groups (businesses, NGOs and community groups) are also in support of it. Pretty impressive for 1.5 years of work! 

The Zero Hour campaign seeks to correct the disconnect between the scientists and MPs, providing a tangible instruction for what practical action is needed if we are to align ourselves to the science and prevent a climate and nature crisis! The Bill connects nature with climate –  pretty important but also very much a no-brainer, they are intimately interrelated! It acknowledges that you can’t address and adapt to climate change if you don’t address biodiversity loss and by legislating and taking wide-spread, political action to protect nature, it will help our country, and our wider world and society, adapt and continue to thrive. 

What does this mean in practice?

Key points within the Bill include:

  1. Ensuring the UK remains within a carbon budget that is in line with 1.5°C rise in temperature. The Government themselves says that if we go over 1.5°C global heating “we could lose control of our climate for good”, yet we are set to miss all of our carbon budgets from next year. And there are 40 new oil and gas extraction projects that are in the pipeline for next year.
  2. Addressing nature loss, and ensuring nature is visibly and measurably recovering across our land. The UK is currently in the bottom 12% for nature loss globally – not quite the green and pleasant land we would have first thought! 
  3. Ensuring the UK takes international accountability, as well as tackling these issues on our home soil. This means measuring and accounting for the fact that the lives we lead have an impact outside of the UK. For example, lots of the production, transportation and disposal of the goods we consume take place internationally. We must account for the impact that this has in terms of emissions and damage to nature. 
  4. Ensuring the public is included in this dialogue, via mechanisms such as nature and climate assemblies. We’ve already written here about the power and importance of climate assemblies as an opportunity for citizens to accept and support large-scale, widespread change that is required. By having opportunities like assemblies for citizens to co-create solutions and understand the problem comprehensively, it will give politicians permission to take action that will lead to impactful change.

Got it, so what is the Nature & Climate Declaration?

The declaration aims to garner a huge show of support for nature and climate in this critical year when the UK holds the presidency of COP26 and with the critical, but lesser-known, COP15 (the UN-convened Biodiversity conference) taking place in the summer. The declaration encourages every politician, from parish councillors to MPs across all four nations in the UK, to sign up and support action on the Nature and Climate crises. 

The Declaration draws on some of the main pillars of the Climate and Ecology Bill. It will help unite politicians in the call for: the UK to do its real fair share for global heating to remain at 1.5°C, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to deliver a more ambitious, integrated decarbonisation and environmental protection plan. The latest IPCC report and further saddening news can make action on biodiversity loss and climate change feel pretty hopeless. The declaration (and wider Climate and Ecology Bill) provides a blueprint for tangible, impactful action that is truly cross-party and inclusive to all, as well as being replicable so that similar action can be adopted and adapted around the world! 

How’s the Declaration doing so far?

Pretty well actually – almost 1,000 different councillors have already signed up and Zero Hour will be calling on MPs to sign up next. However, further action is needed to raise this issue amongst our political elite and to draw attention to the nature and climate crises so that they can’t be ignored by the government. 

…and this is where we all, as curiously caring, environmentally concerned individuals, can help – by asking our local councillors to sign up and support the bill, putting pressure on those with power to act on issues we all care deeply about! 

Be curious!

  1. Use your voice – write to your local councillors using this tool and ask them to sign the Nature Climate Declaration
  2. Then write to your MP asking them to support the Climate and Ecology Bill – or thanking them if they already back the Bill.
  3. Sign up to the Zero Hour campaign and find out further ways you can support the declaration and other work surrounding the Climate and Ecology Bill.
  4. Read more about this movement on the Zero Hour website.