Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible.
This is the warning from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK’s leading, progressive think-tank. In its paper –This is a Crisis- Facing up to the Age of Environmental Breakdown – it explores the process of environmental change at the global and national level and the consequences for society and the economy.
The IPPR states: “Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing.”
“These outcomes include economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems.”
“The historical disregard of environmental considerations in most areas of policy has been a catastrophic mistake.”
“In response, this paper argues that three shifts in understanding across political and policy communities are required: of the scale and pace of environmental breakdown, the implications for societies, and the subsequent need for transformative change.”
The IPPR describes the UK as one of the most nature-depleted countries the in world. It states that average population sizes of the most threatened species have decreased by two thirds since 1970 and nearly 20% of arable land shows signs of erosion.
The paper reveals that within the wealthiest countries, 50% of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the richest 10% of people. In the UK per capita emissions from the richest 10% are five times higher than those from the poorest half of the population.
The IPPR is undertaking a programme of work to better understand and develop solutions to these problems. Over the next year it will assess what progress has been made in responding to environmental breakdown, using the UK as an example within the global context.
Click here to download the report