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 co-Presidency, alongside Italy, of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) provided a vital opportunity to push climate and environmental issues to front and centre of the multilateral trade agenda.
I was fortunate to participate in the talks, please see my video for more details.
Here is a link to COP 26 website: HOME - UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 (ukcop26.org)
I have been a long-standing campaigner on environmental issues. I care very deeply about this issue and have driven many high impact campaigns locally, nationally and internationally. I 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 this Government.
Before becoming a Minister, I led campaigns to reduce plastic and sponsored the legislation on Net Zero which led to the adoption of the UK’s world-leading net zero target. I also supported a major inquiry into how best to ensure the UK meets our climate targets.
I was thrilled to be awarded a Green Heart Hero Award. This is a national award for climate and environmental action from the Climate Coalition. Here is some more information about what this coalition of 140 companies is doing : The Climate Coalitionn
Locally, Essex is aiming to be an exemplar Council for climate and environmental action. Essex County Council is being advised by The 30 member strong Essex Climate Action Commission about tackling climate change. The commission will run for 2 years initially and make recommendations about how we can improve the environment and the economy of Essex.
You can find out more about here what is happening across Essex on issues from increasing charging points for electric cars to tree planting. Energy, climate and environment - Essex County Council
You can sign up here to cut your energy costs: Cut your energy costs: Save money on your energy bills - Essex County Council
There are also regular initiatives that take part across Chelmsford such a local litter picks. You can find out more here on Chelmsford City Council website: Litter Picking - Love Your Chelmsford
Vicky's Guide to Going Green
I have produced a handy brochure on some steps we can all take to help protect the environment – do have a read Vicky's Guide to Going Green by ChelmsfordCM1 - issuu
Environment Plan & Environment Bill
This Government has committed to leaving the environment in a better state than we found it. The 25 year Environment Plan sets out the framework to enable this and the Environment Bill will deliver.
We are also tackling the scourge of plastic, delivering cleaner air and water, and crucially, following our exit from the EU, we are introducing bespoke agricultural and fisheries policies with a more sustainable focus; farmers will be paid to deliver public goods including healthy soil; more nature and access. We are 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.
Also 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.
Importantly 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.
Here are some key points on this landmark Environment Bill:
- New targets to improve air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency New targets
- Office for Environmental Protection to uphold environmental law Interim Office for Environmental Protection to be launched - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Environmental Principles embedded in domestic policy making (polluter pays) Environmental Principles Policy Statement - Polluter Pays
- Extend producer responsibility to make producers pay for 100% of cost of disposal of products, starting with plastic packaging Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging - starting with Plastic
- All new bills containing environmental law must lay a statement before Parliament on how they will maintain environmental standards Bills containing Environmental laws must lay statement to Parliament
- A deposit Return Scheme for single use drinks containers Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Executive summary and next steps - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Charges for single use plastics War on plastic pollution stepped up with expanded plastic bag charge - Defra in the media (blog.gov.uk)
- Greater consistency in recycling collections in England Consistency in recycling collections in England: executive summary and government response - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Electronic waste tracking to monitor waste movements and tackle fly-tipping £1 million boost for UK smart waste tracking - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Tackle Waste Crime Clock is ticking for waste criminals as new taskforce launched - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Power to introduce new resource efficiency information (labelling on the recyclability and durability of products) Our waste, our resources: a strategy for England (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Regulate shipment of hazardous waste UK plan for shipments of waste - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Ban or restrict export of waste to non-OECD countries Waste: import and export - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Require Local Authorities to tackle air quality Role for Local Authorities (defra.gov.uk)
- Simplify enforcement within smoke control areas Smoke control areas: the rules - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Effective collaboration between water companies through statutory water management plans Improving our management of water in the environment: consultation proposals (defra.gov.uk)
- Drainage and sewerage management planning a statutory duty Water supply, wastewater and water quality - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Minimise damage water abstraction may cause on environment Water abstraction plan: Environment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Modernise the process for modifying water and sewerage company licence conditions Improving our management of water in the environment - Defra - Citizen Space
The 10 Point Pan for a Green Recovery
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. The plan includes:
- Increase offshore wind capacity so it can power every home by 2030
- Turn water into energy with up to £500m of investment in hydrogen
- Take forward our plans for new nuclear power, from large scale to small and advanced modular reactors
- Invest more than £2.8bn in electric vehicles. This will allow us to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030...
- Have cleaner public transport, including thousands of green buses and hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes
- Work with researchers to deliver a zero-emission plane. And we will do the same with ships
- Invest £1bn next year to make homes, schools and hospitals greener, and energy bills lower
- Establish a new world-leading industry in carbon capture and storage, backed by £1bn of government investment for clusters across the North, Wales and Scotland
- Harness nature’s ability to absorb carbon by planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year by 2025 and rewilding 30,000 football pitches worth of countryside
- Our £1bn energy innovation fund will help commercialise new low-carbon technologies, like the world’s first liquid air battery being developed in Trafford, and we'll make the City of London the global centre for green finance.
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.
Support for Renewables and Cleaner Energy
In October 2020, 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