We face a climate emergency. Our countryside is having to adapt to greater climatic extremes and we are already seeing damage caused by the droughts, storms and other effects of a changing climate. Over time, these changes threaten to radically alter our landscapes and the natural beauty of the places we love to walk.
Urgent action is needed to reduce carbon emissions, reverse nature loss and create a healthier environment for people and wildlife. That’s why we are calling on government to:
Transport contributes to 34% of carbon dioxide emissions. To address this, we must reduce car dependency. We need to encourage more people to walk to the shops, schools and work, rather than travelling short distances by car. This means designing the places where we live for walking – with well-connected walking routes, easy access to high quality green spaces and safe, welcoming streets. You can read more in our Charter for Walking Neighbourhoods.
Electric cars may not emit carbon dioxide at the point of use, but a mass switch to these will increase demand for electricity. We should invest in what we know works: better walking and cycling infrastructure. To make this happen, we need to increase spending on walking and cycling to 5% of overall Government transport spend, rising to 10% by 2025.
As well as encouraging people to walk and promoting health and wellbeing, investment in our green spaces – from tree planting to peatland restoration – can play a crucial role in addressing climate change and mitigating its effects. Data from the Office of National Statistics estimates the value of Britain’s mountains, moorlands and heaths alone at £20.1 billion in carbon capture, air quality and recreation benefits.
Creating green spaces in our towns and cities helps to combat some of the effects of climate change by cooling the urban environment and soaking up intense rainfall. This should be a priority for government, including by ensuring that local authorities have the necessary funding, resources and technical support to properly manage these impacts on our walking infrastructure and the wider countryside.
Government must support energy efficiency and conservation measures, investment in micro-generation and the development of new green energy technologies. Renewable energy is a big part of the solution. However, we want to see green energy schemes sensitively sized, designed and positioned, with better use made of the energy we generate. Read our policy on renewable energy/ windfarms.
The Ramblers welcomes the government’s commitment achieving carbon net zero by 2050. But, this target needs to be more ambitious. Government should work to phase out fossil fuels and reduce emissions now, so that we can achieve net zero by 2045 at the latest.
The environment should be central to government policy. To make this a reality, we need a flagship Environment Act that establishes a powerful, independent watchdog and is underpinned by ambitious, legally-binding targets on biodiversity and the quality, proximity and accessibility of green space.
For further information contact Alison Hallas, Policy Officer
Published September 2019