Influencing UK environmental policy and politics for over 40 years
In the years since we started out in 1979, we have built a proud legacy, inspiring new perspectives, securing positive policy change and raising the ambition of senior politicians to do more for the environment.
Below you can read our latest annual report to learn about our most recent achievements.
You can also find out more about our beginnings and successes over the years, including a timeline celebrating our first four decades.
In February 2022, we were extremely proud to be awarded a Prospect Think Tank Award in the Climate, Energy and Environment category for our work steering the Greener UK coalition. The judges described our work as “the right idea at the right time, and well executed.” We are grateful to all members of the coalition who have worked so closely with us and contributed to this success.
The signing of a climate pledge by all three main party leaders in 2015, instigated by Green Alliance, led to the UK becoming the first major economy to phase out unabated coal power.
We continue to inform the ongoing debate about coal power, most recently in The case against new coal mines in the UK which argues that a proposed colliery in Cumbria directly contradicts government climate policy. This was the basis of a BBC Radio 4 Inside Science programme in April 2020.
Our work in steering Greener UK, the coalition of 12 leading environmental organisations supported by over 50 other networks and groups, focused on the need for ambitious post-Brexit environment legislation. Thanks to our work, the environment became one of the most debated issues of the Brexit process and the coalition’s advocacy and pressure led the government to commit to the first Environment Bill for 20 years.
Following four years of hard work by experts across the sector, the Greener UK coalition succeeded in keeping vital new environmental protections and standards on track, despite the Covid pandemic and other government priorities, with important legally binding targets for species decline and air pollution, and a legal targets framework covering nature, water, air and waste.
A high profile speech in 2015 by former US Vice President Al Gore, hosted by Green Alliance, spurred the UK government to take a leading role at the Paris COP21 climate summit. Similarly in 2020, ahead of the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow, we held two conferences to raise ambition and expectations, attracting 1,000 people from business, civil society, politics and the media. Senior political speakers included the COP26 president Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP and Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.
Our Net zero policy tracker has been publicising UK climate action against its stated targets since early 2020.
In 2017, we were the first to voice the need to bring the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward from 2040 to 2030. We collaborated with businesses and NGOs to make the case to government. In a significant win, in November 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the phase out date would be brought forward by a decade, speeding up the transition to electric vehicles and cutting carbon faster from this high emission sector.
We launched a major new decarbonising transport programme around the time of this announcement to build on this momentum. Through advocacy and in depth research we are aiming to address the gaps in transport policy and work closely with politicians and other decision makers to build a low carbon transport system for the future.
In 2018, evidence from two of our reports: Less in, more out and Employment and the circular economy, were cited in the government’s new resources and waste strategy. The Environmental Audit Committee’s 2020 report into e-waste and the circular economy contained 50 references to our work, adopting many of our recommendations, including a cut to the VAT on repairs.
In close collaboration with leading academics, we have emphasised the impact of resource use on climate change, framing it as the UK’s missing climate policy. The Climate Change Committee has since acknowledged the importance of resource efficiency, and featured our recommendations, including the need for new ecodesign standards, in its sixth carbon budget advice to government, published in December 2020.
Since 2016, we worked with the National Trust on the concept of the Natural Infrastructure Scheme: a new market mechanism to attract much greater private investment in nature improvements that can have valuable mutual benefits for a range of interests. It was cited in the government’s 25 year environment plan as an innovative financing mechanism with the potential to play a significant role in restoring the natural environment.
Through the Eden Model in Cumbria in 2020-21, we collaborated with the National Trust, Entrade and 3Keel on a pilot to test these market ideas as part of the government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme.