This post is by Sophus zu Ermgassen of the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent.
Although the government has acknowledged the need for ambitious action to prevent loss of biodiversity, it is committed to the rapid expansion of potentially environmentally damaging infrastructure under Project Speed. This is central to its plan to level up and stimulate the post-coronavirus recovery. But can these two ambitions be reconciled? Is it possible to improve the UK’s nature whilst also expanding infrastructure’s footprint across the country?
This post is by James Heath, chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission.
I write this from a modern flat in the centre of a big city on the hottest day of the year so far, unable to open my windows because a telecoms operator is digging up my street to lay full fibre broadband cables.
I hesitate to complain about my situation, not least as there will be many millions in far more precarious situations as a result of global warming, and because faster internet connections can reduce more carbon intensive activities like the daily commute.
This post is by Dr Katy Roelich, associate professor at Sustainability Research Institute, Leeds University
In its 2015 report Opening up infrastructure planning, Green Alliance argued that “…public engagement is critical to finding common ground between different stakeholders and making infrastructure delivery successful in the UK.” Six years and three national lockdowns later, we’re even more aware infrastructure’s crucial role in our daily lives.
In his memoirs, Tony Blair is scathing about environmental NGOs: “Because their entire raison d’etre is to get policy changed, they can hardly say yes, we’ve done it, putting themselves out of business…. Balance is not in their vocabulary. It’s all ‘outrage’, ‘betrayal’, ‘crisis’.” Ed Balls expressed similar concerns to the Institute for Government in 2016. Green NGOs, he said, “were very sceptical about government. They found it very hard to support and push.” Rather than opening up space for the government to move into, they killed off good plans because they were not perfect. Read more
If the reports in the Sunday papers this weekend were true, then tomorrow the prime minister will set out his vision for how the UK government plans to respond to the serious and grave threats facing the economy as the global pandemic continues.
It will also be the first time since the lockdown in March that the government has had the chance to put climate and nature back on top of its agenda. The need to do so could not be more urgent. Read more
This post is by Katie de Kauwe, lawyer at Friends of the Earth.
The government’s policy giving the green light to Heathrow expansion and establishing the need for more airport capacity in the south east was ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal on climate grounds last month. This ruling follows years of work by the legal team at Friends of the Earth (myself included), along with our external solicitors at Leigh Day, and barristers (David Wolfe QC at Matrix Chambers, Peter Lockley at 11KBW and Andrew Parkinson at Landmark Chambers). And, of course, the absolutely tireless work, campaigning and commitment from local residents who are the unsung heroes of the piece. Read more
This post is by Anne Velenturf, Phil Purnell and Juliet Jopson, the co-ordination team of the Resource Recovery from Waste programme at the University of Leeds.
As consumers stock up on Christmas presents, the annual homage to consumerism sees many products end up in the bin as soon as festive cheer has faded. Read more
The collapse of government talks with Hitachi this week takes almost 3GW of future nuclear capacity off the table. While opinion on nuclear is polarised, the UK had been relying on it to meet long term climate targets. With this week’s announcement, 9GW of proposed nuclear capacity has now been suspended. This leaves an increasing low carbon energy gap which will have to be filled by 2030 to meet legal carbon targets. Read more
Green Alliance launched the new Tech Task Force earlier this month at an evening reception addressed by Claire Perry MP and the members of the Task Force: HVM Catapult, Innovate UK, Gambica, Schneider Electric and Ramboll. With it, we are setting out to make sure digital technologies help to close the north-south divide and make the UK a greener and more prosperous place for everyone. That optimistic vision runs counter to recent headlines suggesting robots and artificial intelligence software will make us all obsolete. Read more
This post is by Jonathan Bosch, research postgraduate at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.
The internal electricity market (IEM) is one of the major achievements of the European single market, allowing electricity to be traded and transmitted seamlessly across national borders. The UK has played a crucial role in the IEM’s development, working with EU energy regulatory agencies to help achieve ‘market coupling’, whereby power station operation and interconnection capacity are allocated simultaneously to achieve more efficient outcomes. The IEM relies on the physical interconnection infrastructure across the continent, and current plans see an expansion of interconnection between the UK and the European mainland in the coming years.