Karen Ellis, Chief Adviser on Economics and Development at WWF-UK, addressed the Environmental Audit Committee today at the Houses of Parliament. The Committee, which is chaired by Mary Creagh MP, is holding an inquiry on the role of the Treasury in relation to sustainable development and environmental protection. Karen Ellis urged the Committee to put environmental sustainability at the heart of economic policy.
During the oral evidence session, Karen Ellis emphasised the importance of natural capital and argued that it should be placed at the heart of the Treasury’s decision-making process to safeguard not only the environment, but the future of the UK economy.
At session she highlighted:
- The major economic costs that have been caused by environmental damage, such as increased flooding, healthcare costs from pollution, and climate change, and called for Treasury to undertake a natural capital stress testing exercise to assess the risks to different sectors of the economy from continued patterns of environmental damage.
- The opportunities from moving the economy onto a more sustainable growth trajectory, including improved productivity and competitiveness, technological innovation and new jobs and market opportunities, and the need for Treasury to take a more strategic and long-term approach to shaping markets to support this transition.
- The welcome opportunity that the Government’s new 25 year plan for the environment provides to show this leadership, and the need for Treasury to play a key role in shaping and implementing the plan.
After the evidence session, Karen Ellis, commented: “A healthy natural world is the foundation of a productive and resilient economy, yet environmental degradation is worsening. Government, business and civil society increasingly recognise the need to structure economic policy so that it promotes investment in our natural assets.
“Following the results of the European Union Referendum there is an even greater need for the UK Government to show a clear commitment to putting the environment at the heart of government policy.
“HM Treasury has a vital role to play, and has a duty to safeguard the asset base on which our economy depends. It needs to create a policy framework that encourages the innovation and investment needed to drive transition and promote sustainable economic development that preserves the environment for future generations.”