With the planet's climate and ecosystems under urgent threat from human activity, Dexter Lee explores upcoming green milestones and the Civil Service Environment Network’s goals.
COVID-19 made 2020 an incredibly difficult year, with tragic loss of life and the upheaval of livelihoods. It made even clearer we are inherently dependent on a thriving natural world.
This connection undoubtedly means our COVID-19 recovery should be underpinned by dual environmental and economic objectives. This has been exemplified by efforts such as the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This plan increased ambition in a range of sectors – for example, through aims to ‘green’ our buildings and transport, bolster offshore wind capacity, and invest in carbon capture.
In December, the UK ratcheted up its climate mitigation ambition - to at least a 68% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030, from 1990 levels. We also saw encouraging signs internationally with major economies, such as China and Japan, following the UK with their own ‘Net Zero’ pledges.
In 2021, we look forward to the UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow. This will be a vital moment for the UK to demonstrate leadership - to facilitate collaboration, enhance global ambition, finalise the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’, and accelerate the implementation of pledges across climate mitigation, adaption, and finance.
On biodiversity and nature, we await the final review of the economics of biodiversity, which will inform how we better manage and sustain our crucial natural assets. This will come ahead of the UN biodiversity conference, COP15, which will agree on a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, in Kunming, China.
Net Zero Review
Domestically we await publications such as HM Treasury’s Net Zero Review, which will consider how to equitably fund the transition, and will sit alongside BEIS’s commitment to publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy. In HM Treasury’s interim review, it was pleasing to see the narrative underline Net Zero as something “essential for long term prosperity.” These reports sit within the context of the recent Climate Change Committee’s Carbon Budget assessment. They found that the cost of Net Zero is lower than previously estimated, now at <1% of GDP annually for the next 30 years.
We also look forward to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which builds on other notable sectoral publications in 2020, such as the Energy White Paper. 2021 also sees the creation of the Office for Environmental Protection, the new independent environment watchdog.
Looking back on 2020
The Civil Service Environment Network (CSEN) is a space for all civil servants to share and build knowledge and capability in environmental policy. CSEN’s membership grew significantly and engagement with members deepened in 2020. We now have more than 1000 members across the Civil Service.
Our monthly talks programme explored cross-cutting and topical issues, such as environmental justice and a ‘Green’ COVID-19 recovery. We have been fortunate to host leading experts from academia, public bodies and think tanks. You can access recordings of previous events on CSEN Online. Each month, building on these talks, our discussion group collaborated with specialists within the Civil Service and other networks to facilitate subsequent deep-dive conversations.
Our careers team hosted panel events with Senior Civil Servants and shared insightful careers blogs. Our volunteering team facilitated opportunities through City Harvest (a surplus food redistributor in London) for civil servants to meet and support their local community.
Our community leads helped build new connections in Scotland and Wales. They also ensured Diversity and Inclusion principles underpin our offer. Finally, our communications team - promoted events, managed our monthly coffee roulette, and led the launch of CSEN Online.
Looking forward to CSEN’s 2021
We are excited to build on our offer with three new workstreams in 2021:
- We will be launching policy workshops, to allow members to actively explore and contribute to real policy challenges. We hope the findings will have a genuine impact in the policy-making process.
- Our dedicated liaison leads will be deepening and creating new links across the Civil Service, including with agencies, professions, and other networks.
- Our online content leads will enhance CSEN Online – bolstering resources it hosts and creating opportunities for online discussion and connections.
We hope these steps improve our membership reach and provide further opportunities for members to actively engage with our offer and each other.
How can you stay up to date with CSEN?
- Sign up to our mailing list, The Branch;
- Become a member on our website, CSEN online;
- Follow us on Twitter @_csen;
- or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will shortly be recruiting for 2021/2022 CSEN committee positions to take the reins from April. Look out for communications on how you can apply.