Financing the response to the nature and climate emergency

Wednesday 3 November 2021

When you are out in the wild places of the UK's countryside, nature seems a world away from politics and finance.

But political decisions about how we spend or invest public money have reverberations for our precious wildlife and the places they make their homes – across our peatlands, coastlands, meadows and woodlands.

These places are not only beautiful landscapes. They protect our homes and businesses from extreme weather driven by climate change and lock away carbon from the atmosphere.

With 15% of UK species at risk of extinction, nature is in crisis. This August a major UN scientific report issued a “code red for humanity” and warned of increasing heatwaves, droughts and flooding across the planet but said catastrophe can be avoided if world leaders act fast. More than 2,500 deaths were linked to heatwaves in England last year. This summer flash flooding in London submerged London Underground stations in water and forced hospitals to evacuate patients and cancel surgeries.

We can only halt and reverse wildlife decline and adapt to the extreme weather which will inevitably increase as a result of climate change if the governments of the UK invest in saving nature and wild places. However, a recently released report from the Green Finance Initiative has calculated we need to invest £56billion over the next 10 years to fill the existing nature funding gap in the UK.

Nature is an investment with incredible returns. A Green Alliance report the RSPB helped promote showed 16,000 new jobs could be created in restoring nature and planting trees. Research commissioned by the RSPB suggests for every £1 invested in peatland local areas receive about £4.60 in economic benefits, while similar investment in woodland areas and salt marshes produces returns of £2.80 and £1.30 respectively. 

UK Governments could change the course of history and even unlock £6.4 billion in public benefits by investing in nature – dwarfing the public sector spending on nature in 2018/19 by over 1,000% according to this RSPB report released earlier this year. The report shows how nature is crucial to our efforts to revive our world by storing carbon, helping to prevent flooding and safeguard communities’ way of life, all while creating amazing havens for wildlife that everyone can enjoy.

We need to help, support and reward companies that invest in nature by offering incentives to revive our world, enable a green recovery from the global COVID pandemic and step up as world leaders as the UK hosts major UN climate change conference COP26 this week in Glasgow.

At COP26 world leaders will make long-lasting choices that will affect our day-to-day lives. We need to show that action speaks louder than words and we need your help. Simply take an action for nature, and tell us what you’ve done. Then you’ll stand with thousands of others to demand decision-makers follow our lead. Find out more about how to stand up for nature here.

Last Updated: Tuesday 25 January 2022

Tagged with: Country: UK Topic: Climate change