Climate Change seminar
Thursday 27th March 2008 - London
The English National Parks cover 8% of England; are iconic landscapes; contribute to storing carbon; and are visited by millions. As upland, and coastal landscapes they will be one of the first areas to see first hand the effects of climate change in this country. In March 2008, Minister for Marine, Landscape, and Rural Affairs, and Minister for the South East, Jonathan Shaw MP, invited the Chairs, Chief Executives and key staff from the nine National Park Authorities (NPAs) and senior Board members of Natural England to consider the role – both present and future – of NPAs in tackling climate change. The NPAs welcome this initiative, given the important existing work and potential that NPAs can play in this area.
The aims of the seminar
The seminar is an opportunity to explore the contribution of National Park Authorities to tackling climate change, both mitigation and adaptation. The aim is to reach a consensus on:
- defining the unique contribution of the National Parks;
- the extent to which the National Park experience could/ should be disseminated to others;
- whether a written climate change strategy is needed and/ or climate change reports from National Park Authorities;
- how to make progress on measuring the amount of carbon stored in the National Parks; and
- how achievable carbon neutrality is for the National Park Authorities and the National Parks themselves.
National Park Authorities have four unique contributions
There are many individuals and organisations involved in tackling climate change – both mitigation and adaptation. ENPAA has considered the range of activities that National Park Authorities are behind, and considers that our four unique contributions are:
- Carbon/ecosystem management on a landscape scale
- National Parks as test beds for climate change adaptation on a landscape scale
- Promoting energy conservation and micro-generation
- Communicating with millions of visitors who are there to explore and in remote rural economies learn about the natural environment
Government, Agencies and others could help National Park Authorities to achieve more
In the pages that follow, we provide summaries of what each English NPA is doing in relation to climate change mitigation and/ or adaptation. Critical to the achievement of the outcomes we share, however, is partnership working with other Agencies like Natural England, the Environment Agency and others. A range of Government departments can also assist NPAs to achieve more in this area. Below we summarise some of the key areas where we believe help could really assist the existing efforts of NPAs and others.
Overall we look to Defra to actively promote, and seek recognition for, the national role that National Parks can play in tackling climate change.
- assist in developing a simple methodology to determine carbon budgets for each National Park, especially for peat soils, and then the impact of farming and land management on carbon storage;
- Defra and Natural England to fund good quality science to enable a proper assessment of carbon storage/sequestration/reduction potential of different actions at national, regional and National Park level;
- identify and promote best practice in the public sector to enable carbon neutrality; and
- provide access to data, research and regulatory advice that is free to other Government bodies/agencies, to NPAs.
- ensure there are the resources for delivery through providing assistance with innovative funding models (invest to save, revolving funds);
- clarification on the future of PR09 and whether money can be spent on land that water companies do not own;
- identify National Park Authorities as ‘lead’ funding agencies in National Parks and integrate and delegate parallel regional funds (eg. clear skies schemes locally promoted and administered);
- provide additional funding to support communication initiatives and resources to implement projects identified by the Parks’ adaptation plans; and
- to provide better incentives to landowners to carry out carbon neutral/reduction land management techniques (especially through the proposed Upland Entry Level Scheme) with pilots for new incentives within National Parks
- Defra to integrate moorland carbon into the emerging soil strategy and escalate moorland carbon emission as a high risk factor causing climate change;
- Defra to work with Government agencies to mainstream carbon friendly land management;
- Defra/ Natural England/ Environment Agency to support the integration of resources and approaches across different bodies – e.g. HLS targeting to allow the creation of new washlands to meet biodiversity, flood risk, and landscape targets;
- recognise and target support for climate change innovation in specific rural community and key local economy demonstration programmes, including the development of new approaches on land owned by National Park Authorities;
- bring agencies together in a focussed way to prepare a strategic plan for green infrastructure and landscape restoration (eg. across the South East);
- recognise and support the role National Park Authorities play in carbon management and water management (and the benefits downstream) through targeted support, in particular through the Upland Partnership; and
- clarify how the plethora of strategies and processes aimed at tackling climate change fit with economic development policies which include expansion of airports and air and road traffic.
Defra engagement with other Government departments
- continue to lead work across Whitehall to ensure adequate resources are delivered for climate change, obvious anomalies are addressed, and delivery structures are simplified;
- work with other departments to ensure rural services are supported in order to retain sustainable communities;
- CLG – there is a need for high level dialogue with CLG over the application of PPS25 and allied policies in relation to an integrated approach to climate change adaptation, new build, and protected landscapes;
- DBERR – work with the department to ensure sufficient support is available for the development of renewable energy that is appropriate for protected landscapes;
- DfT – ensure practical and financial support is available to reduce dependency and use of carbon-based private transport, including through support for integrated transport in urban and rural areas; and
- HM Treasury - adopt more meaningful measures of sustainable economic development, since current models (such as favouring airport expansion) make things worse.