The Climate Change Committee has strongly criticised the government for its shortcomings in harnessing the power of nature to combat climate change. In a report released this week, the independent body responsible for advising the UK government on emissions reductions and climate change adaptation highlighted several key areas where the government’s performance was lacking.

Foremost among these shortcomings is the government’s lack of a comprehensive land strategy to harness nature-based solutions to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Despite overwhelming evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of nature restoration, woodland creation and peatland regeneration, the government has been slow to act. By not giving serious attention to these solutions, the CCC’s report argues that the government’s climate change strategy has come off the rails and opportunities are being missed to make strides in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change.

Whilst peatland restoration rates inched slightly higher in 2022, they remain far below the urgency demanded by the crisis at hand. Peatlands are invaluable carbon sinks, capable of storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Yet the government’s lack of focus on accelerating restoration means that many of them remain badly degraded and emitting carbon, hindering progress in the fight against climate change.

An additional shortcoming highlighted by the CCC report is the government’s failure to take the opportunity to extend the law prohibiting burning on deep peat by grouse moors to all protected peatlands. By allowing burning to continue on shallow peatlands in protected areas, the government’s lack of ambition is resulting in these sensitive habitats not being protected or restored to their healthier, deeper state.

Finally, the CCC report sounds the alarm on the government falling short of meeting its tree planting rates. Despite grand promises and targets, progress has been woefully sluggish, far below what is necessary to confront the climate crisis head on. Trees are climate heroes, absorbing carbon dioxide and restoring biodiversity. Yet the government’s lacklustre efforts undermine the ambition of achieving net-zero emissions, severely limiting the roll out of tree planting and woodland expansion in the uplands.

Experts and environmental advocates are united in their call for the government to get its climate strategy back on track. Wild Moors is joining them by urging for a new vision to be set out for the uplands.