Why governments should be helping us to live the green good life

microchip.jpgThis post is by Tamsin Murray Leach of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP-UCL).

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what we mean when we talk about innovation, or technology, for that matter. Popular (mis)conceptions interpret it both to mean gadgets and robots, while governments promote ‘innovation’ as an economic panacea, focusing on invention and entrepreneurship. Yet the broader sociopolitical context behind technological change is often overlooked. This is especially true when it comes to the major shifts in lifestyle that have taken place with each technological revolution.

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The green watchdog is a sound investment for our future

1200px-Durdle_Door_Overview.jpgThis post is by Tom West, ClientEarth’s law and policy advisor.

A major lesson from ClientEarth’s air quality challenges is that we cannot always rely on the government’s promises to meet its legal obligations.

It wasn’t that long ago that the UK was known as the ‘dirty man of Europe’ for causing acid rain across the continent, dumping sewage straight into the sea and failing to control pollution from large power stations, cars and industry.

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Why we need an environment and climate watchdog

drought.pngThis blog was first published by Business Green.

The unprecedented, prolonged heatwave that Britain and much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing seems to have brought climate change, albeit temporarily, to the forefront of our public and political discourse. A timely report from the Environmental Audit Committee has warned there will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050, triple today’s rate, if we do not take further action. Former energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd penned a Times op-ed stating climate change is here and rising global temperatures are already baked in. But the thrust of her argument was that a madcap approach to Brexit could unravel Britain’s ambitious climate goals. Addressing climate change, she said, requires “co-operation, shared sovereignty and internationalism.”

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Five factors that will ensure workers and communities benefit from the low carbon transition

construction-worker-569126_1280.jpgThis post is by Catherine Cameron, Katerina Cerna and Lucy Stone of the consultancy Agulhas: Applied Knowledge. It highlights the results of research commissioned under a grant from CIFF.

Change can leave not just stranded assets and industries but stranded communities. Workers in the tar sands oil fields of Alberta, Canada were determined this fate would not befall them. Worried that the boom and bust of oil extraction would lead to layoffs, community disintegration and tough times,  they chose a different course. The worker-led Iron & Earth initiative is an indication of what could happen if fossil fuel workers get involved in changing their prospects.

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Leaving the EU will surrender our sovereignty

union jack flag and big ben in the background, London, UK - general elections, London, UKThis post is by Andrew Adonis and is based on his book Saving Britain: how we must change to prosper in Europe, co-authored with Will Hutton.

Brexit is the antithesis of the Conservative Party’s pro-European tradition, exemplified by Churchill’s post-war commitment to a united Europe, Heath’s passion for taking Britain into the Common Market and, indeed, Mrs Thatcher’s early enthusiasm for the single market. Brexiters pretend that once outside the EU, the world becomes an economic Eden raining down free fruit. There are no hard decisions or trade-offs. Britain, long thwarted by its dalliance with the EU, can freely gorge. This is cynical dishonesty based on willful ignorance. It is time to get real. Read more

A new Environment Bill is momentous; the hard work begins now

Eurasian OtterSomething quite momentous happened on 18 July. The prime minister announced the first dedicated environment bill for over twenty years. Have no doubt that this is as major a policy announcement as they come, although it might easily have been missed as it was tucked away in an answer to a question on air quality when Theresa May was grilled by select committee chairs on their subject areas. Luckily this tweet sealed the deal and the announcement is now common knowledge and an important platform from which to build.

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What is the future of environmental governance in Northern Ireland?

northern ireland.jpgThis post is by Ciara Brennan, Mary Dobbs, Viviane Gravey and Attracta Uí Bhroin, authors of  a recent report on what Brexit means for Northern Ireland environmental governance.

The influence of EU membership on environmental governance in Northern Ireland has been profound. Now Brexit raises the very real possibility of major environmental governance gaps right across the UK. A risk which is exacerbated in Northern Ireland where environmental decision making and the implementation of environmental law is notoriously problematic.

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Why isn’t community energy playing a bigger part in the UK’s energy system?

community energy1.jpgIf you passed Norwood School in Lambeth last month, you may have seen an unusual sight: a group of teenagers on the roof. Far from misbehaving, the students were taking part in Repowering Lambeth’s Schools, a community energy project installing solar panels with a total of 264 kWp capacity on five schools and a library in the London Borough of Lambeth. As well as earning the school more money, students and the local area benefit from a community fund and solar panel making workshops.

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UK chemical regulation needs a plan B for ‘no deal’

drum-label-poly-twinlxThis post is by Lord Teverson, chair of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee

Virtually every product we use in our day-to-day lives is made from chemicals, so it’s vital that they’re made in a way that protects both environmental and human health. At the moment that process is managed by the EU chemical regulation, REACH, which combines legislation with an EU database, an EU regulator and the EU single market to create a system that keeps us all safe.

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