Environmental investment is critical for prosperity
‘No Charge? Valuing the Natural Environment’, pulls together research to show that the economic value of nature now runs to billions of pounds in the UK and that there are major savings to be made through looking after it.
The report cites examples such as investment in schemes to deliver environmental benefits through farming reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 11 per cent, providing carbon savings estimated to be worth approximately £180m per year.
Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “There is enormous hidden value in the ecological solutions provided by the natural environment. We need to recognise them as among the most highly efficient and cost-effective means of tackling a range of environmental, social and economic problems”.
The report accompanied a debate hosted by Natural England and Guardian News & Media at which a range of leading speakers – including Dieter Helm of New College Oxford, Hilary Benn MP, secretary of state for the environment, and chair Polly Toynbee – reviewed the central role that investment in the environment has to play in delivering future economic growth and prosperity.
The No Charge? report looks at a range of natural “ecosystem services” such as green spaces that transform city life, cooling our cities, filtering out pollutants and having a startling impact on the activity levels of local people. Increasing the exercise levels of just 1 per cent of the UK’s population would deliver nearly £1.5bn in health care savings.
Copies of ‘No Charge? Valuing the Natural Environment’ can be downloaded here.