I have been a long-standing campaigner on environmental issues and helped found the Conservative Environment Network which is a powerful force in lobbying for environmental action. Environmental action and the need to address climate change is taken very seriously by the Government.
The UK has a world-leading reputation in tackling climate change. We were the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, the UK economy has grown by 75% while cutting emissions by 43%. This is a tremendous achievement so far.
Our forthcoming co-Presidency, alongside Italy, of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the UK next year, will provide a vital opportunity to push climate and environmental issues to front and centre of the multilateral trade agenda. You can find more information on COP26 here.
The Government’s 10 point plan for a Green Recovery will turn the UK into the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, creating the foundations for decades of economic growth. See here:https://www.vickyford.uk/news/governments-10-point-plan-green-recovery
The Environment Plan
The Government has published a 25 Year Environment Plan, which will be enshrined in the Environment Bill.
In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network and, in the long term, to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected site series. A new framework for Local Nature Recovery Strategies will be legislated for in the Environment Bill, to help support the Nature Recovery Network and better direct investment in the environment and green infrastructure – creating places that are richer in wildlife and provide wider benefits for local communities. The Bill will also require the preparation and publication of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, mapping nature-rich habitats, so that investment can be targeted where it will make the most difference. These local plans will embrace local knowledge to strengthen links between neighbouring communities and support the wider Network.
The Bill ensures the environment is at the heart of all policy making and that this and future governments are held to account if they fail to uphold their environmental duties. These will include meeting net-zero by 2050, as well as wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency which will be established under the Bill.
Action on Plastic and protecting our Oceans
It is estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean globally every year, which has produced many scenes of marine wildlife being injured or killed by plastic waste. As a long standing campaigner against plastic waste I am also extremely pleased that the Environment Bill will also take forward ambitious plans to reduce plastic waste. These include using powers to ensure that producers take responsibility for the waste they create, introducing a consistent approach to recycling including food waste, tackling waste crime, introducing deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement. Powers to introduce new charges will minimise the use and impacts of single use plastics, and we will also be able to ban the export of plastic waste to developing countries.
This builds on other actions already taken, such as the ban on highly damaging microbeads and the ban on the supply of plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.. You can read more information on the ban here.
Saving Energy and Reducing Emissions
As we work to recover from the pandemic it is important that this is a Green Recovery which continues to focus on the need to reduce damaging emissions and save energy.
In July, the Chancellor announced a new Green Homes Grant to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes across England, which opened for applications at the beginning of October. The Government will provide £2 billion to allow people to apply for a voucher, to fund at least two-thirds of the cost of upgrading the energy performance of their homes, up to a maximum of £5,000. Low-income households will be eligible for up to 100% of Government funding, up to £10,000. This measure will reduce energy bills.
The Government will also provide £1 billion to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings. This scheme will offer grants to public sector bodies including schools and hospitals to fund both energy-efficiency and low-carbon heat measures. You can read the guidance on the Green Homes Grant here.
Support for Renewables and Cleaner Energy
In October, the Prime Minister announced a new investment of £160 million to support offshore wind. This funding will support major new port side manufacturing hubs, so that the UK can host the factories making the next generation of offshore wind equipment. The Government also confirmed a boost to its previous target to deliver up to 30GW of offshore wind to deliver 40GW by 2030' ..see more here https://www.vickyford.uk/news/support-renewables-and-cleaner-energy-dec…
Protecting the World’s Rainforests
The Government is proposing world-leading legislation to protect rainforests. Deforestation is now the second leading cause of climate change globally and is responsible for around 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions – so it is vitally important that we tackle this issue. The law the Government is proposing would make it illegal for larger businesses to use key commodities – such as cocoa, rubber, soya and palm oil – if they are not produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems. UK businesses (of a particular threshold) would be required to be transparent about how they have ensured their supply chains do not contain ‘forest risk’ commodities from illegal deforestation. The Government aims not just to take world-leading domestic measures, but to also forge a global alliance of countries committed to working together to ensure that our precious forests are protected for future generations. The Consultation on the introduction of due diligence on forest risk commodities has now closed and you can read the outcome here.
In 2021, subject to market conditions, the Government will issue its first Sovereign Green Bond in 2021 subject to market conditions. The bonds will help fund projects which aim to tackle climate change, finance much needed infrastructure investment and create green jobs across the country. The UK will become the first country in the world to make Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) aligned disclosures fully mandatory across the economy by 2025, going beyond the ‘comply or explain’ approach. You can find more information here.
Protecting our Farmed Environment
The Agriculture Bill, champions British food by improving transparency and fairness in the supply chain and through investing in new technology and research to ensure our food producers remain competitive and innovative. The Government will also help food producers strengthen their negotiating position at the farm gate and seek a fairer return by collecting data from across the supply chain. The Bill allows the UK to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods including environmental protection, access to the countryside, and work to reduce flooding. In order to spend more on boosting productivity and environmental benefits, Direct Payments will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, which is due to start in 2021 and run for seven years. You can find more information about the Agriculture Bill becoming law here.
Protecting the World’s Oceans
I am pleased that the United Kingdom has now protected more than 4.3 million square kilometres of the world’s ocean. As well as this, the UK remains on course to protect over half of our waters. We now have 357 Marine Protected Areas of different types, spanning 220,000 square km, and no activities deemed damaging to designated features will be allowed to take place in these areas. The Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) has now been published and recommends that they would represent the upper end of environmental protection... see here for more details https://www.vickyford.uk/news/protecting-worlds-oceans