This blog was originally posted on LabourList for the FEPS-Fabian Summer Conference 2019.
Our climate has benefited from Theresa May’s shift into legacy mode, with her hugely welcome announcement that the UK government will follow the advice of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and legislate for a net zero emissions target. But she was pipped to the post by the devolved administrations: the SNP government in Scotland had already adopted a more ambitious net zero emissions target, while the Labour government in Wales pledged to achieve net zero five years ahead of the target advised by the CCC.
Game on. But, as the UK parliament recognised in its May 1st declaration, we face a wider environmental crisis beyond climate change – as if the latter weren’t terrifying enough. A few days after the debate, a colossal global assessment of humanity’s impact on nature made headlines with its finding that one million species are facing extinction. Read more
Most of us probably only think about our water company when we pay the bill, when there’s a hosepipe ban or when we see news stories about how much water bosses are getting paid. Labour’s proposal to renationalise the water industry highlights some of these popular concerns. With all this noise it is easy to forget that the water industry is a hugely significant player in environmental protection. Whatever the future ownership of the water industry looks like, we urgently need to improve the state of our waterways, increasing resilience and restoring nature. Read more
New Year articles and blogs often predict what is going to happen in the year ahead. But after the political upsets of the past couple years, it seems more appropriate to pose questions than predict outcomes. So here are some of the important questions that need addressing this year, starting, inevitably, with Brexit.
This post also appears in the current edition of Utility Week.
I was having dinner with a former US colleague when I realised how far UK leadership on the environment had weakened. I used to feel pity for US environmentalists, and now I felt a twinge of envy. She described the meticulous preparation of the Obama’s team before its recent announcements on climate change, the rallying of movers and shakers to back up the White House push, and I was reminded of how effective political leadership could be in forging a new policy direction. It seemed impossible a year ago that the US would give up on its high carbon ways and now it seems normal that it is regulating against new coal power plants, the biggest point source of carbon. Read more