This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post
The government’s focus on the seemingly never-ending Brexit farce in Westminster has meant that other, important priorities are being neglected, not least the environment.
I am sure the thousands of school pupils who went on strike to demand a greater focus on climate change, will be very upset to note that the UK is likely to miss almost all the 2020 nature targets it set itself a decade ago. They are not alone in that.
A report from the joint nature conservation committee has found insufficient progress is being made on 14 of the 19 targets set in 2010 by the global Convention on Biological Diversity.
They say we are failing to protect threatened species; to end the degradation of land; reduce agricultural pollution; and increase funding for green schemes. In addition, the UK is not ending unsustainable fishing; stopping the arrival of invasive alien species; nor raising public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.
A separate report, published in 2016, found that the UK is “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”, with a continuing decline in species such as skylarks, hedgehogs, many insects including butterflies and corn marigolds:
A key target is to improve the conservation status of threatened species but the report says “there have been widespread and significant ongoing declines across many species”, such as farmland birds and pollinating insects.
Brexit may well be in crisis, but the real existential threat to the UK lies in the neglect of our environment. It is time that changed.