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Making environmental policy work for everyone

This paper sets out recommendations for all political parties to make environmental policy fairer, endorsed by 33 charities.

We believe everyone should be able to share in the benefits of green policy, from lower energy bills to better health.

The policy ideas come from focus groups and surveys of over 800 Disabled people, older people, young people, and people from ethnic minorities – supported by the experiences of charities working with these groups of people.

Our recommendations to make environmental policies fairer include:

  • Putting a requirement for fairness in green policies into law.
  • Prioritising the installation of heat pumps, solar panels, and insulation in rented housing and social housing, so everyone can benefit from lower energy bills sooner.
  • Introducing a national scrappage scheme for low-income families to get rid of polluting vehicles.

Our recommendations to make government programmes more accessible to all people include:

  • Targeting skills support at underrepresented groups, like people from ethnic minority communities, to help them access green jobs.
  • Helping more people enjoy the health benefits of parks and rivers, including removing barriers like making paths accessible to wheelchair users and reducing crime.

Explore our ideas by downloading the full report or reading a summary below.

This work has been made possible by the support of the William Grant Foundation, the City Bridge Foundation, and the Garfield Weston Foundation.



Logos of signatories of the enviornment paper

Summary of recommendations

1. Active involvement in policy development and implementation

Government should meaningfully involve diverse groups in every stage of the policy process. Marginalised groups must be proportionately represented in policymaking. Policymakers should:

  • set up formal and informal feedback channels within central government for charities working with marginalised social groups
  • encourage local government to improve the involvement of marginalised groups within environmental policy making and delivery
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2. Fairness, and the right to a clean and healthy environment

We need Government to commit to ensuring the equitable distribution of the benefits and costs of environmental policies, including subsidising the costs of environmental policies for disadvantaged groups. Policymakers should:

  • introduce a legal requirement to include the principle of fairness in the distribution of costs and benefits when creating environmental policies
  • monitor and adjust environment policy benefits and costs distribution across different groups to ensure fairness and sustainability
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3. Accessible information

Accessible environmental information, including on health advice, climate impacts, emergency planning, funding, and actions individuals can take should be made available by Government. This should be tailored to the needs of marginalised groups, e.g. creating ‘easy read’ reports and guidance, offering provision for the digitally excluded, and using trusted sources such as charities for distribution. Policymakers should:

  • consult disadvantaged groups to understand their information needs and channels
  • develop an action plan to ensure information on environmental policies, programmes and funding can be accessed by marginalised and disadvantaged groups.
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4. Quality housing

We need short- and long-term Government plans to alleviate fuel poverty, lower energy bills, improve housing standards, and ensure new housing is accessible and environmentally sustainable.

Policymakers should:

  • extend fuel poverty schemes to more people on low incomes
  • improve private rented housing standards, including insulation
  • retrofit homes to withstand flooding and overheating
  • ensure new homes are zero-carbon, insulated and accessible.
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5. Fair access to affordable renewables

We must increase the installation rate of renewable technologies (such as heat pumps), targeting low-income and disadvantaged groups, alongside individuals with higher emissions. Policymakers should:

  • increase the installation of renewable technologies in social and private rented housing
  • include renewable technologies as standard in new developments from 2025
  • support disadvantaged and marginalised groups’ involvement in community energy schemes.
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6. Affordable, accessible, and clean transport

We need to improve public transport accessibility and regularity, make active travel more accessible to marginalised groups, and ensure equitable access to zero-emission vehicles. Policymakers should:

  • substantially increase funding for our public transport network, maintaining subsidised fares and ensuring accessibility across urban and rural areas
  • implement a national scrappage scheme for low-income groups with polluting vehicles
  • ensure transport developments recognise different needs; for example, ensuring pavements are accessible for Disabled people when cycle lanes are introduced.
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7. Accessible green jobs and skills programmes

We need the UK to attract and retain jobs in the zero-carbon and natural environment sectors, ensuring accessible skills and training programmes are available for all, especially underrepresented groups. Policymakers should:

  • develop a long-term plan for creating green jobs in the UK
  • create a national, cross-departmental framework for green skills and local skills plans
  • provide targeted support and awareness schemes to support marginalised groups to access green jobs.
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8. Access to high-quality green and blue spaces

All tiers of Government need to ensure that high-quality, accessible green spaces and blue spaces (natural areas featuring water such as lakes or rivers) are developed near to low-income areas. This will help improve physical and mental health. Policymakers should:

  • review and address barriers preventing some communities from using green and blue spaces
  • support charities working in deprived areas to improve access to green and blue spaces
  • support local authorities to develop green infrastructure strategies
  • invest in green social prescribing.
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