James Bevan’s Speech Not Supported By Scientific Evidence–Environment Agency

By Paul Homewood



You may recall a speech a few months ago by Sir James Bevan, head of the Environment Agency:



Let me start by thanking all of you. For inviting me. For being here to listen. And to the whole of the Aldersgate Group for doing what you do. In championing a competitive and environmentally sustainable economy you are doing the right thing – and indeed the most important thing that any of us can do right now. In doing it through active political engagement, strong evidence based analysis, and well-judged policy proposals you are doing it in the right way. And you are the right people to do it: there is nothing more powerful than a coalition of all the key players, from business, the NGO world and the public sector; and you are that coalition.

The climate emergency is the Main Thing

I worked in Washington DC during Bill Clinton’s Presidency. The four words that got him to the White House against all the odds were coined by his campaign strategist James Carville ‘it’s the economy, stupid.’ The point was to remind the campaign team what really mattered to the country and the voters. At Harvard Business School they teach you that success in any organisation comes down to following a simple principle, which is this: ‘The main thing is to make sure that the Main Thing really is the main thing.’ I’ll be honest: I’ve been Chief Executive of the Environment Agency for over three and a half years now, and it’s taken me a while realise what the Main Thing is. And the answer, which I now say to myself every day, is this: it’s the climate emergency, stupid.

That’s because the biggest single threat to everything we all care about, and the biggest threat to everything the Environment Agency exists to do – protect people from flood and drought, enhance the environment, support sustainable growth – is climate change.

Global heating is driving more extreme rainfall and rising sea levels, which is putting more people at risk of flooding. It’s driving hotter and drier summers, putting our country – already experiencing water scarcity – at risk of what I call the Jaws of Death: the point twenty or so years out from now where the lines on the graph showing rising water demand and diminishing water supply cross, and we don’t have enough water. Climate change is damaging our air, our water and our soils, as pollution incidents spike in more extreme hot weather. During last summer’s prolonged dry spell, the Environment Agency responded to more than three times the normal amount of environmental incidents: fish kills, fires, water pollution, etc.

And climate change risks undermining our ability to deliver the sustainable growth that people need and demand. That’s because more extreme weather will increasingly damage the inputs and the infrastructure on which our economies depend.



Intrigued at some of his absurd claims, I sent a FOI to the Environment Agency, asking for a copy of the scientific advice on which the speech was based.

This is their reply:.



They are effectively admitting that there was in fact no “scientific advice”, and that Bevan simply made it up as he went along.

This is quite astonishing, given his position as the CEO of a major public funded body. Taxpayers should not be paying for Bevan to propagate his own personal opinions. Neither should public policy be influenced by them, unsubstantiated as they are.



November 10, 2019 at 06:06AM

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