Natural capital should be added into national accounts, Liberal Democrat environmentalist Baroness Parminter has told this year’s CIWM ‘Resource the Future’ conference in London.
As keynote speaker, Baroness Parminter followed on today (27 June) from CIWM president Margaret Bates. The event is organised by CIWM with the Environmental Services Association and the Resource Association. Professor Bates told the audience that “in this time of massive uncertainty”, it might be that “we need to solve our resource issues from within”.
The Baroness took up the issue of resources saying that it is a topic that attracts little attention from politicians or the media – “even the falling recycling down to 44% doesn’t attract attention”.
Backing the idea of a more consistent approach to recycling across England, as advocated by WRAP, the peer argued that “clearly reversing the cuts to WRAP’s budgets and to councils should be a high priority”.
While the development of the circular economy was being proposed for Europe, she said that ‘the British economy has a long way to go to improving the way it deals with resources. Global pressures on natural resources will only increase… and environmental and related topics should be at the heart of political debate.”
Baroness Parminter pointed out how the LibDems in their election manifesto had packaged resourced efficiency as one of its five environmental aims. “I am pleased that our party is ahead of the curve on these issues”.
She told the audience of waste and recycling experts that the UK “needs a new system to force governments to act on resource measures”, advocating something similar to the Climate Change Act for resource management. “The Act has had a positive impact on planning and policy development,” she said.
And, explaining the concept of adding natural capital into national accounts, she said that this would include subjects such as clean air and biodiversity through to raw materials.
This would involve the government setting out measures to reduce resource consumption and there would also be an Office of Environmental Responsibility along the lines of the Office of Budge Responsibility.
Responding to questions about recycling and government policy, the Baroness warned that the sector needed “to fight much harder to get politicians to take this issue seriously…. Especially when we aren’t in that secure framework of EU directives”.
And she said that there was also a “market opportunity in a massive global market to develop resource efficiency measures but we need to do a lot more to make sure government realise these issues matter.”