Earthwatch set for climate slog

UK environmental groups face a tough challenge to engage the public with the impact of climate change because of the country's relatively limited flora and fauna, Earthwatch has admitted.

It warns that environmental charities must present a more united front on climate change issues than they currently do if they are to have any hope of spurring people into action.

The publication of new research revealing that a quarter of all animal life could be extinct through climate change by 2050 has prompted Earthwatch to warn that the voluntary sector's potentially powerful impact is being diluted by mixed and contrasting messages coming from a plethora of mission-driven organisations.

"Getting a common voice on climate change is very difficult but essential if we are to have a chance of changing people's attitudes," said Dave Hillyard, head of environmental partnerships at Earthwatch. "There is still a worrying lack of leadership and responsibility among the NGO sector towards what is probably the most fundamental threat to biodiversity and animal life we have ever encountered.

"There's even more need for effective joint working in the UK as many people can't register what the destruction of the planet's animal and plant life means here, as compared to those who live in a rich natural habitat and are used to living alongside a wide array of wildlife," he said.

Earthwatch is publishing a report The Material Risks Of Biodiversity in partnership with Isis Asset Management, a firm specialising in socially responsible investment, to highlight the impact that biodiversity can have on company profits.

"The challenge is to provide businesses with an idea of how the loss of animal and plant life will have a negative effect on their profits," he said. "For example, if half the UK's bee species were to die out, it would have a huge impact on cross-pollination and, thereby, farming."

Earthwatch also wants charities to work together on more environmental studies and scientific research in order to provide more qualified data that could be used to push environmental issues up the political agenda.

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