Laurence would like to highlight that the Government are stepping up its commitments to rural beauty and environmental protections.
Specifically, the Environment Bill sets out how the Government plans to protect and improve the natural environment in the UK, legislating to ensure the environment is front and centre in future policy making.
This bill will enhance wildlife, tackle air pollution, transform how we manage our resources and waste, and improve the resilience of water supplies in a changing climate to ensure we protect and restore the natural environment. It will importantly include the new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) which will effectively enforce these enhanced environmental rules and standards.
This is one of the key vehicles for delivering the bold vision set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, bringing about urgent and meaningful action to tackle the environmental and climate crisis the world is facing.
The 25 Year Environment Plan aims to protect the environment by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality, and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans. In the first year alone, 90% of this plan’s actions have been delivered or are being progressed.
The UK has long recognised the unequivocal threat that environmental degradation poses to the lives and wellbeing of individuals and communities across the world, including the most marginalised and vulnerable. The UK is concerned that environmental degradation can have implications for the full enjoyment of human rights and supported General Assembly Resolution 76/300 on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Further, the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan sets out the drive to halt the decline of nature by 2030, including strengthening protected areas’ delivery for nature, extending and creating new protected areas and wildlife-rich habitat beyond these, and investing in habitat restoration.
The government remain committed to delivering a step change in private investment to support our ambitious goals for nature’s recovery. The government are supporting this through a range of measures as set out in the 2023 Green Finance Strategy and Nature Markets Framework. By unlocking stalled development, alongside the initiatives on biodiversity net gain, the Government’s proposed reforms would increase private investment in natural recovery.
The government are also working internationally to support other countries to deliver the 30by30 target.
Sustainable food production and caring for the environment can and must go hand in hand. The Government’s ELM schemes will ensure our long-term food security by investing in the foundations of food production: healthy soil, water and biodiverse ecosystems. They have been developed so that there is an offer for all farm types, including for tenant farmers.
As a consistent and keen supporter of environmental protections both regionally and nationally, Laurence will continue discussions with colleagues and stakeholders, nationally and regionally, specific to the issues you have raised.
Climate Change (Net Zero)
The Government are committed to Net Zero, and fighting climate change. The UK was the first country in the world to create a legally-binding national commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This was the Climate Change Act of 2008, which pledges to cut our emissions as a country by 80% by 2050, from 1990 levels. This also created a Climate Change Committee, which puts forward carbon budgets to the government.
In 2021 the UK hosted the flagship international climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow. As Greenpeace expressed, the UK’s targets of phasing out coal by 2024 compares well to others in Europe, such as Germany, which has a target of 2038. The UK is “generally doing well on renewables, with each year more and more of our electricity being created by wind power.”
Over the last decade, the government have over-delivered on our targets (the fastest reduction in emissions in the G7, down almost 50 per cent compared to 1990), technological advances which have reduced costs (such as offshore wind costs down by 70 per cent more than we projected in 2016), and higher than forecast adoption of clean technologies like electric vehicles.
The government have been clear that they are going even further for households and investors by embracing the opportunities of the green economy to create more well-paid jobs: funding for Sizewell C and support for small modular nuclear reactors, speeding up connections to new grid infrastructure, more onshore and offshore wind with an improved auction round, and brand new funding to support green R&D.
It remains the sole purpose of the newly created Department for Net Zero and Energy Security to ensure that our future energy is cheaper, cleaner, and more secure.
Furthermore, Laurence would note that according to the Environmental Performance Index – which provides “a quantitative basis for comparing, analysing, and understanding environmental performance for 180 countries” – the United Kingdom is ranked Second, behind only Denmark; with an EPI score of 77.70, and a 10-year change of 23.00.
Laurence and this government remain committed to smashing our Net Zero target of 2050, which we remain on target to reach, as well as this government’s long term plan to improve our planet’s environment. Laurence shall continue to speak to colleagues and ministers on this issue as we continue our path to a cleaner, energy secure, country.