This article was originally published in Business Green.
If I were the type to shout at my radio, I would have spewed righteous vitriol at the Today programme last Thursday morning. Ahead of the launch of the government’s long awaited 25 Year Plan for the Environment, Environment Secretary Michael Gove was interviewed by Nick Robinson about his ‘big vision’ for dealing with the large environmental challenges that lie ahead. Introducing the segment, Robinson asserted: “The question any politician has to face in this field is this: on the one hand, people say they want less plastic and they cheer on David Attenborough, but do they want to pay 25p more for their cup of coffee?”
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today published its analysis of the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), the government’s blueprint for meeting the targets it is legally bound to achieve under the Climate Change Act.
The analysis highlights a worrying gap (of 10-65 MTCO2e) between the government’s existing policies and commitments and the requirements set under the fourth and fifth carbon budgets. To bridge this gap and minimise delivery risks, the CCC says, the government must urgently firm up the policies, proposals and intentions laid out in the Clean Growth
As we entered 2017, the UK was on edge, with the government’s plans for Brexit unclear, and the environmental dimensions of that even more so. While much remains at risk as the year draws to a close, prospects for our environment look brighter than they did 12 months ago.
This post is by Sam Hall, senior research fellow at Bright Blue
One of the most striking features of the government’s recently published Clean growth strategy is its unashamed embrace of the political and economic opportunity of decarbonisation. The opening pages praise the UK’s world-leading record on climate action: since 1990, the UK has cut its greenhouse gas emissions faster, at the same time as achieving higher per-capita economic growth, than the rest of the G7.
The journey of the government’s decarbonisation strategy, announced today, is a key to how it should be read: it started as the carbon plan, was downgraded to a compliance-focused emissions reduction plan, then transformed into a clean growth plan to match a shift in how government now sees green growth and, at the last moment, it has metamorphosed into the Clean growth strategy.
Climate and the environment have been steadily making their way up the political agenda of the British public, and younger voters are leading the march.
In 2012, when the then Department for Energy and Climate Change carried out the first wave of its energy and climate change public opinion tracker, only two per cent of the people asked felt that climate change was the biggest challenge facing Britain.
In her speech in Ottawa yesterday, Theresa May reiterated the UK’s commitment to phasing out unabated coal (ie where emissions are not captured) by 2025. This was the prime minister’s first public statement on climate policy since taking office after the Brexit referendum last year. Although the Conservative manifesto mentioned it, the prime minister has been worryingly tight lipped, leading to concerns about her commitment to climate leadership. Brexit has slowed down domestic policy making, but this statement asserts the UK’s aspiration to be a global climate leader, even as it prepares to leave the EU. Read more
Credit where credit’s due, the UK has shown strong leadership in tackling climate change. We were the first major economy to commit to phasing out coal fired power and we’ve set ambitious, legally binding carbon budgets up to 2032. We’ve also made strong progress towards meeting these carbon targets, having achieved our 2020 target five years early in 2015. Read more
This post is by Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI.
Technology is changing the world around us at an unprecedented rate. The Internet of Things, the sharing economy, 5G and autonomous vehicles will all change the way we live and work. At the same time, Brexit is going to have a profound impact on our politics and the way the UK works and trades with Europe and the rest of the world.
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.
The government has published its Industrial Strategy, its Housing White Paper and its Digital Plan, but three flagship environmental promises remain mired in Whitehall wrangling: the 25 year environment plan, the 25 year food and farming plan and the clean growth plan are all delayed. Read more