Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:41 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Chartres Lord Chartres Crossbench 1:41 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, as other noble Lords have said, there is obviously a risk that, as the lockdown eases, we shall be tempted to return to those old ways of thinking and behaving which are at the root of so many of our environmental distresses. However, in order to change ways of thinking and behaving, we need more of a common mind, and we certainly need a strategy for developing and disseminating a code of environmental principles that are simple and memorable enough to be included in the national curriculum. The noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, has already referred to the importance of education in this area. Principles are the vital step in formulating sustainable policies and assisting in their implementation and enforcement.

Of course, we already have a start in the principles derived from European legislation, which figure in the Environment Bill. The principles of “polluter pays”, prevention and the precautionary approach are a very good start, but we need to develop them in the light of recent public debate. It is important not to complicate things but, rather, to lift them out of the realm of international expert conferences and specialist papers so that simple and memorable environmental principles become part of ordinary, everyday conversation. A code of environmental principles ought to be at least as well known as the Highway Code. I believe that it ought to include a commitment to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Covid crisis has given us all the time to reflect on how we live now; I hope that we will not waste the opportunity.