The CEN Manifesto

Stewardship of the natural world, responsibility towards future generations, the search for resilience, these are core tenets of conservatism. Yet we’re so often told that only the political Left is able and willing to tackle the many and growing en- vironmental crises facing us. Why has this become the received wisdom? And why have conservatives allowed this myth to be perpetuated?

Today, the crises facing humanity have worsened beyond measure, and it is more important than ever that conservatives rediscover and champion their inherent affinity for looking after the natural world. This manifesto lays out a series of over- arching ideas for doing just that.
— Ben Goldsmith, Chairman (Foreword)
Click to read the full document

Click to read the full document

The Manifesto is an optimistic document. It argues that tackling the existential threat of environmental breakdown offers our divided country a new national project. It argues that this unifying mission can bring economic regeneration and natural restoration to all parts of the country. It argues that individuals can do more than they think, but that the job cannot be left to them alone. It argues that the UK enjoys a unique position on the world stage and is well placed to offer leadership and authority on this task. And finally, it argues that while a romantic attachment to the countryside may be a particularly conservative instinct, the desire to protect our planet for our children’s sake is something that unites us all.

The Declaration

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As Members of the CEN Parliamentary Caucus,

  1. We recognise the gravity of the global environmental crisis, and our duty to preserve and restore our planet for future generations.

  2. We agree that by working with nature, rather than against it, we can grow our economy faster and more sustainably - and that the environment provides essential services that underpin economic growth.

  3. We believe that the best route to net zero emissions is through a prosperous market economy that innovates quickly.

  4. We know that transformational change starts with the responsibility of the individual.

  5. We believe that the UK has a duty to display global leadership on the environmental crisis.

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Since we launched the Manifesto, several other MPs who are not in the Caucus have asked to sign the Declaration to show their support. These include:

Bim Afolami
Nicky Morgan

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Executive Summary

I. Security

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Our planet and its natural systems are facing irreversible ‘tipping points’ beyond which they cannot repair. Scientific findings show that this devastation is being caused by human activity. To leave our children a world of renewing natural systems and ecological stability we must act today to secure the building-blocks of life. 

Net Zero 2050 - a Conservative legacy
Natural restoration to accompany the new, world-leading net zero target: (economic opportunities follow in ‘Prosperity’)
New Forestry Act - rediscover the ambition of 1919, pledging to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2050.
Peatland restoration - preserving one of the most valuable ecosystems and carbon stores on Earth.  

Environment Act
New world-leading Environment Act - that responds to the gravity of species decline by setting legally-binding targets to restore our air, water, wildlife, green spaces and to fix our pollution and waste. 
Environmental Watchdog - to monitor the government’s environmental ambitions and obligations both within the new Environment Act, and in environmental law and obligations more broadly. 
Nature Recovery Network -  a statutory requirement on LAs to draft local nature recovery maps, connected at a national scale, used for a new market-based structure for investment in environmental services and  planning law. 

UK Defence
Naval protection for our seas - a new Fisheries Act that legislates for scientifically-set maximum sustainable yields, a ban on bottom trawling, and a ban on fishing in British MCZs and MPAs, enforced with the help of the Royal Navy. 
A National Resilience Unit - ensuring investment is ‘future proofed’ to climate change. 

II. Prosperity

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If we learn to work in harmony with nature, our potential for sustainable economic growth is exponential, and by using resources efficiently we can secure better living standards for all. The message is simple and the path is clear: cut emissions, grow the  economy, enhance the environment and unite the country behind a new common purpose, all at the same time. 

Energy
Subsidy-free onshore wind - a route to market for the cheapest source of power by letting it compete in CfD auctions.
Increase ambition on offshore wind - become the Saudi Arabia of wind power hitting 75GW by 2050.
Remove barriers for solar and batteries - scrap the VAT hikes and review export tariffs. 
Ban fracking - unpopular and uneconomic - it’s time to move away from oil and gas. 

Housing
Planning reform - a Royal Commission to propose a new, coherent planning regime, that ‘greens’ the Green Belt and unlocks millions of new homes for the next generation. 
Environmental Net Gain - a new legal requirement for all development, leaving the environment in a better state. Upgrade old homes - £1bn a year to upgrade our leaky housing stock and end £9.5bn a year in wasted energy. 
Future-proof new homes - carbon neutral homes resilient to flooding and other weather disasters. 

Transport
Electric vehicles - end sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, with new infrastructure and incentives to help us get there. 
Road pricing - replace fuel duty as shift from ICEs to EVs to maintain roads and pay social cost of pollution. 
Regional rail, bus & cycling networks - improving transport outside London to drive UK growth.

III. Justice

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The aim of good regulation is not to limit the free expression of markets, but to ask business to act in a fair and sustainable way. We must treat others as we would like to be treated and champion equality before the law because to act without regard to others is neither just nor fair, and it’s definitely not sustainable. 

Polluter pays
Air Quality - clamp down on pollutants with new fines, and reduce money NHS spends treating AQ-related disease. 
New pollution taxes - to reduce our reliance on harmful pollutants. 
Product design - extend EPR, ban non-recyclable materials and require minimum recycled content. 
Waste crime - new smart tech to track fly-tipping, and punish with higher fines and custodial sentences. 

Animal welfare
Reward farmers - better food labelling, public procurement, trade deal standards &  financial incentives.
Ban live exports - when we leave the EU we can end this cruel practice once and for all. 
Live testing - strict licensing to ensure only used in medical research when unavoidable. 

IV. RESPONSIBILITY

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Noone can be responsible for everything, but everyone can be responsible for something - we must seize the opportunity to do the right thing in our own lives. How can we make it easier for individuals, families, businesses and local government to do the right thing? 

Public money for public goods
Public Authority Carbon Commitments - government leading by example by extending to all public authorities. 
Farming - replace CAP with a system of rural payments that helps farmers to look after nature.
ELM - bring public and private money together in a single market-based, landscape-scale cheme for nature recovery. 

Civic Engagement
Household waste collections - transform domestic recycling with new consistent collections and labelling for everyone. 
‘Libertarian paternalism’ - non-enforceable, light touch and low-cost measures to encourage particular behaviour

Investment
Sustainable finance - encourage financial services towards long-term environmental security and economic prosperity.

V. DIPLOMACY

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The UK has a unique responsibility and opportunity to show leadership on the global environmental crisis. We have the political leadership and public support to do the right thing, and can use domestic achievements to speak authoritatively on the world stage. We cannot solve the climate crisis alone, but without us, it will be difficult for it to be solved at all.

UK Overseas Aid
Sharing expertise - increase portion of UK aid spent on climate change and biodiversity decline, helping developing countries to leapfrog coal, finance low carbon, assist in weather emergencies, create nature protection zones. 

UN Leadership
COP 26  - host with demonstrable ambition and leadership 
Climate Security Commission - to report to COP26 on security implications of climate change.
Global Deal for Nature - call for companion to the Paris Climate Agreement to restore nature and halt species decline. 
Oceans - protect 30% of world’s oceans by 2030, commit to Blue Belt and secure ambitious new High Seas Treaty. 

Commonwealth Alliance for Nature
Unique friendship and regional expertise - extend the nature recovery network across the whole of the Commonwealth.

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