I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since over 650,000 people took to the streets across the globe, calling on world leaders to make strong commitments to tackling climate change. What a great show of strength from the climate movement. I still feel incredibly elated by the whole day, let's hope the momentum carries on next year and helps push for a global deal at the Paris climate conference. There will be more opportunities to get involved with the Climate Coalition throughout next year, so watch this space.
Of course all the serious stuff was taking place in New York. Here's RSPB's Conservation Director Martin Harper blogging about David Cameron's speech to the UN Climate Summit (and the Labour Party Conference, which is where he was blogging from); and here is Martin's own response to that speech.
Whilst we definitely need strong leadership if we are going to face this issue head-on, there are things we can all do to help reduce our impact on this incredible planet we call home. Here's a truly inspirational blog from RSPB volunteer Paul Martin, on how one person can really make a difference.
Climate change - what difference can one person make?
I'm certainly taking notes on what more I can do!
What did you think of the Prime Minister's speech?
An enormous and heart-felt thank you to all those individuals, organisations, community groups and local politicians who’ve stood up for Lodge Hill and its precious wildlife, and our protected areas all over England by asking Eric Pickles to call-in the decision to build 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill and put it through a full public inquiry.
We can still ask until midnight tonight, so if you’ve not done so yet there’s still time to send your email, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Although the deadline for us to ask the Secretary of State to step in and save Lodge Hill is today, a decision does not have to be made immediately. Together, we’ve done everything we can to show that building on Lodge Hill undermines the protection of sites like it all over England and that this matters to us all. However, the final decision is entirely discretionary.
Mr Pickles has just tweeted a link to this statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/planning-application-in-lodge-hill-medway announcing that because he is a member of the RSPB, a different Planning Minister will now consider whether or not to call in Lodge Hill (never fear, your emails are getting through to the right place).
As Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr Pickles presided over the development of the policy that governs all planning, the National Planning and Policy Framework (or NPPF – far less of a mouthful) in 2012. It was on his watch that the hierarchy of protection of our most special sites was kept in place, in the face of substantial pressure for economic growth to trump environmental protection. It would be a great shame if the excellent protection he oversaw then were undermined by Medway Council Planning Committee’s decision now.
We’re all looking forward to hearing what the Planning Minister who takes over responsibility for this will decide, and we very much hope they uphold Mr Pickles' own good work of two years ago.
Over the past two weeks we've been focussed on convincing Eric Pickles of the importance of England’s special sites for wildlife, and marching in our tens of thousands to show those leaders attending today’s UN Climate Summit that we want to see action on climate change, for people, wildlife, and a cleaner, greener future.
(We have until the end of Thursday to ask Eric Pickles to step in to uphold the laws protecting England’s best sites for wildlife from development, so do email him today if you’ve not yet done so!)
Over the same period Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President of the European Commission, has also announced his new line-up of European Commissioners. Against such a positive backdrop as the hundreds of thousands of people globally who marched for a greener future, it’s disappointing and frustrating that there is no senior Commissioner with responsibility for sustainability (and within it climate and the environment) and that the mandate of these Commissioners is a clear, and almost exclusive, focus on growth, which comes so often at the expense of the environment. Our Conservation Director, Martin Harper, has laid out what it looks like and the implications for nature across the EU in his blog.
But there is a silver lining. Before these Commissioners are confirmed, Members of European Parliament have the chance to challenge and question their mandates. Our MEPs need to ask the right questions of those with responsibility for environmental issues to get commitments that environmental protection will not be sidelined or watered down in pursuit of ‘growth at any cost’. Our chief executive, Mike Clarke has sent his own letter to UK MEPs, expressing our concerns about the future of the environment under President Juncker’s new structure, and what ought to be changed.
If you’re concerned too, you can write to your MEP and encourage them, or their environment representatives, to ask challenging questions of the new Commissioners in next week’s hearings.
Find out more about what we’ve said and what you can do on our Saving Special Places blog.