PM and Deputy need to show greater commitment on sustainability

14 June 2013

The Environmental Audit Committee has today published reports on (i) the Outcomes of the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit, and (ii) Embedding sustainable development: An update.

The Government should produce a new Strategy to dispel doubts about its commitment to sustainability, Parliament’s cross-party green watchdog has said. The Treasury has been reluctant to support green initiatives, the PM failed to attend the Rio Summit in June last year and his January 2013 Bloomberg speech signalled a possible renegotiation of the EU’s remit on environmental issues.

Following the publication of the report to the UN published on 30 May, co-authored by the Prime Minister, the Committee also urges the PM to continue to push for sustainable development indicators to be integrated with efforts to tackle poverty and climate change.

Committee Chair

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Joan Walley MP, commented:

"The Government’s commitment to sustainability is getting weaker, at a time when much more effort is needed both internationally and at home in the UK. The Prime Minister has co-authored an important report to the UN on development and poverty, and he now needs to steer the UN’s work to embrace the sustainable development goals committed to at the Rio Summit.

He can make a start on that in his negotiations with other leaders at the G8 next week. And at home the Government should get sustainability embedded in education and skills training."

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes two reports today covering sustainability in both the UK and international context - one report on the Government’s performance in getting sustainable development embedded in departments, and one on the outcomes of the UN Rio+20 Summit last year.

Action is needed

Other areas where action is needed include:

  • The PM using his position as a co-chair on a UN committee on the Development Agenda to integrate this with the Goals being formulated after the Rio Summit, and ensure the outcomes reflect safe environmental limits.
  • Scrutinising departments’ plans to identify gaps in sustainable policies, not just to ‘sustainability-proof’ those that the Government puts forward.
  • Increasing compliance by departments with the regulations on ‘sustainability reporting’.
  • More sustainability skills training and learning in schools and colleges.

The Committee also criticises the Deputy-PM’s refusal to appear before the Committee to answer its questions on his role in leading the Government delegation at the Rio Summit.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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