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Liberal Democrats

F6: COP15 and the UK Government

Motion passed by conference

Proposed by: 20 members

Mover: Baroness Parminter.

Summation: Richard Benwell.


Conferences notes with concern that:

  1. The UK has lost nearly half of its biodiversity since the Industrial Revolution and is ranked in the bottom 10% in the world and the worst among G7 nations for biodiversity.
  2. The Conservative Government has missed its 2020 target for 50% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest to be in favourable condition with just 38% in favourable condition in England.
  3. The Conservative Government has missed its 2020 target for UK seas to meet Good Environmental Status, failing on 11 out of 15 indicators of marine health.
  4. The Conservative Government is set to miss its target for 75% of rivers and streams to be in good condition by 2027, with just 14% of surface waters in good ecological condition in England and 0% in good overall condition.
  5. There has been a global decline of 68% in animal population sizes since 1970 and that previous targets to halt global decline in biodiversity have been missed.
  6. The climate emergency and the ecological emergencies are intrinsically linked, and that there has been insufficient action in the UK and globally to tackle the climate emergency.

Conference recognises that the opportunity for the UK to help secure an effective multilateral agreement for nature ahead of the forthcoming UN Biodiversity conference (COP-15) is undermined by a lack of credibility in domestic action, caused by many years of environmental policy failure by the Conservative government, including:

  1. Inadequate protection or investment in wildlife sites.
  2. Debilitating funding cuts to the statutory environmental agencies.
  3. Weak policies that fail to support a transition to a sustainable farming and fishing industry.

Conference notes in particular that the Conservative government’s domestic record in key policy areas relating to COP-15 is currently inadequate, including:

  1. Targets, where the Conservative government has yet to set out a credible action plan for delivering its environmental goals for water quality, air quality, habitats and biodiversity.
  2. Protecting 30% of the land and sea for nature, where Conservative ministers claim to be close to the target are completely undermined by a lack of management measures and enforcement.
  3. Accountability, with the Conservatives decision to restrict the independence of the new Office for Environmental Protection and forthcoming reforms that would reduce access to environmental justice.

Conference therefore calls on the UK government at COP15 to:

  1. Take urgent diplomatic steps in support of measurable and specific biodiversity goals to begin to reverse the decline of biodiversity by 2030 and create a nature-positive economy by 2050.
  2. Propose a declaration and action plan at COP15 to empower subnational actors in co-designing and delivering biodiversity restoration.

Conference also calls on the UK government to take steps urgently to increase its environmental credibility and effectiveness by:

  1. Laying before Parliament a cross-Whitehall plan that stops the longterm decline in biodiversity by 2030 with specific and costed policy measures (including planning policy, fishing, agriculture and land use policies) that add up with a high degree of confidence to turning round the long-term decline in biodiversity.
  2. Giving substance to its promise to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by strengthening and completing the network of protected wildlife sites in England, and reforming the powers, purposes, funding and duties for AONBs and National Parks to restore nature.
  3. Implementing the recommendations of the Dasgupta Review at pace and ensuring that the environment is at the heart of all government policymaking by adopting a set of economic measures that go beyond GDP to take account of the natural world.
  4. Committing to a shared fiscal and policy framework between central and local government to enable authorities to contribute effectively to solutions to an ecological emergency.
  5. Reversing the recent cut to international development spending, restoring it to 0.7% of GNI, and increasing finance for developing countries to protect and restore their ecosystems.

Conference reaffirms pledges in motion International Trade and the DIT (September 2021) for minimum environmental and animal welfare standards for future trade agreements, where they can be negotiated, based on a UK Trade and Human Rights Policy, and a Trade and Development Policy, as a UK successor to the Cotonou agreement.


Applicability: Federal; except a) and b) (lines 52–60) and d) (lines 65–67), which are England only.


Mover: 5 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 3 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 28 February; see page 12. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Friday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.