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Fighting the nature and climate crises
Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to nature and people we face. The RSPB is fighting to recover nature and make net-zero emissions a reality.
Making nature recovery a legal must
The RSPB has been pushing for strong laws to protect and restore nature. The new Westminster Environment Act is ambitious, setting out binding targets for air quality, water, biodiversity and resource efficiency & waste reduction, as well as a separate species abundance target to halt declines by 2030. It also defines the environmental principles that ministers must follow when developing policies and helps ensure enforcement with a new watchdog.
We’re working to make sure these targets become realities and will continue to push for new legislation to plug any gaps.
Leading the way locally
Westminster politicians aren’t the only ones charged with tackling the nature and climate crises. Our local government leaders also have a responsibility to restore and protect the environment for future generations. Access to nature and greenspace is vital for mental and physical wellbeing, and local leaders now have an opportunity to be the champions of change, taking concrete action to recover nature and tackle climate change in their regions.
Reaching net-zero emissions
Without rapidly cutting our greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the economy, we won’t stop the nature and climate crises. The term net zero describes the balance between reducing emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Reaching net zero is critical to a world that’s richer in wildlife. In the UK, the goal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and in Scotland, by 2045. At the RSPB, we want to see a more ambitious target of net zero for all countries by 2045 at the latest. Urgent action is needed to avoid devastating outcomes for people and nature. We support an accelerated roll-out of renewables to reach net zero.
Supporting nature-based solutions
In the UK, around two-fifths of species have declined in recent decades, due to the loss and damage of precious habitats and ecosystems. As we work to stop catastrophic climate change, we must also do everything we can to give nature the home it needs.
Nature-based solutions are ways to tackle the challenges faced by society – like climate change and its impacts – by protecting and restoring ecosystems, as well as managing them sustainably. The benefits are often multiple for humanity and wildlife. These solutions can often be readily ‘rolled-out’ at scale and can be relatively cost-effective.
For more information on how nature-based solutions can help the UK adapt to the impacts of climate change, read our report.
The climate challenge
Climate change is already here. Nature has faced its impacts for more than 30 years. That means we need to adapt and fast. Lots of work is already underway at our reserves, and we’re learning more about how the changing conditions are affecting wildlife and habitats all the time.
We’re doing what we can to build resilience, to strengthen species populations and restore as much nature as possible. But our climate is changing so rapidly and dramatically that we increasingly need to live with new climate conditions, rather than against them. We’ll still need nature reserves of course. In fact, we need more of them, bigger ones, better-connected ones, and they need to be managed as much as possible with climate change in mind.
Restoring our oceans and seas
They cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and influence much of life on our planet – marine and coastal ecosystems are key to the fight against climate change. Saltmarshes, seagrass meadows, wetlands, as well as marine animals or sediments are very efficient at capturing and storing carbon, but they can only do this when healthy.
Their contribution to tackling the climate crisis doesn’t stop there. Beyond their carbon storing qualities, marine ecosystems could help lessen some of the impacts of climate change. They can act as nurseries and food sources for wildlife including waterbirds, help protect coastal infrastructure and communities by reducing the risk of coastal flooding and erosion, and more. It's critical that we help these ecosystems recover and safeguard their future.