This virtual debate will be held on Tuesday 16th March 2021, 16.00 – 17.00.

While the Covid-19 pandemic is unresolved it is essential that we do not overlook the far greater existential threats of climate change and ecological breakdown. As Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize winning atmospheric chemist, has warned, we are in a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which humans’ impact on the earth rivals that of nature.

Dieter Helm has proposed responses to both these existential threats in two recent books:

In Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside he details the policy changes needed to manage the UK’s natural resources in a way that will allow us to pass on a better environment to future generations and for us to stop depleting natural capital without, at least, recognising the value of what is being lost.

In Net Zero – How We Stop Causing Climate Change (2020) Helm reminds us that, to our shame, we have largely wasted the last 30 years. He investigates the issues of a net zero economy and approach to agriculture, transport and electricity and proposes a ‘no regrets plan’ with a focus on two key issues – a carbon tax and the principle that the polluter should pay.

This discussion will address the issue of what such a ‘no regrets plan’ should deliver and the responsibility for implementing it, from politicians, with their hesitancy over enacting the necessary policies, to the public, with their unwillingness to accept change. What are the barriers to achieving positive outcomes and how do we overcome them?

The session will pose three questions for the speakers and the Edge audience:

1. What are the policies required and how can we influence them?
2. How can we ensure that policies, once enacted, achieve their aims?
3. How do we ensure that the pace of change is sufficient?

Introduction: Robin Nicholson, CBE, the Edge


Sir Dieter Helm, CBE, Professor of Economic Policy, University of Oxford and Chair of the Natural Capital Committee 2012-20
Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Chair of the National Audit Office
Shaun Spiers, Executive Tuesday 16th March 2021, 16.00 – 17.00Director, Green Alliance

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