Legal briefing | Environment & Regulatory, Environment & Climate Change |

UK Government Unveils New "Ten Point" Environmental Plan: A Green Industrial Revolution?

UK Government Unveils New "Ten Point" Environmental Plan:  A Green Industrial Revolution?

Overview

The UK Government today set out its ambitious ten point plan for the Environment, covering clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies. 

The plan aims to create up to 250,000 highly skilled "green" jobs in the UK and kick start significant private sector investment. Along with the progress currently being made in order to implement the UK's new Environment Bill, which will set out how the UK's green standards and environmental protection legislation will look following the Brexit transition period, these plans reflect an ambitious pathway towards the UK's net-zero goals.

A changing environmental landscape

The Government's plans to mobilise £12 billion of Government investment are part of a wider strategy outlined over the past weeks intended to make the UK the world leader in clean wind energy, as well as implementing greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes and national parks.

The Government's ten point plan covers:

  1. Offshore wind
    Producing enough offshore wind to power every home and supporting up to 60,000 related jobs.

    2 Hydrogen
    Working with industry to aim to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes.

    3 Nuclear
    Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors.

    4 Electric Vehicles
    A ban on new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel being sold in the UK from 2030 and an acceleration of the infrastructure required to transition to electric vehicles.

    5 Public Transport
    Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emissions public transport.

    6 Greener maritime
    Supporting maritime and airline industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.

    7 Homes and public buildings
    Making UK homes, schools and hospitals greener and more energy efficient, including a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

    8 Carbon capture
    Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030.

    9 Nature
    Protecting and restoring the UK's natural environment, including by planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year.

    10 Innovation and Finance
    Developing the technologies needed to turn the UK into the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, creating the foundations for years of economic growth.


Supporting the above ten point plan, the Government has also launched the new "Green Jobs Taskforce" to assist the creation of new green jobs and help the UK to build back greener and transition to a high-skill, low carbon economy.

The ten point plan intends to "create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050" - Prime Minister Boris Johnson


Supporting Legislation - The UK's Environment Bill

In addition to the Government's ten point plan, the recently re-introduced Environment Bill aims to introduce legally binding targets for air quality, nature, water and resource and waste efficiency. The Environment Bill was described by former Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers as as "a truly landmark piece of legislation", although the passage of the bill was paused on Thursday 19 March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As currently drafted, the bill is divided into eight different sections, which can be grouped into three main areas: (i) powers to allow the Secretary of State to amend regulations in areas of environmental concern, (ii) legally enshrining biodiversity targets and (iii) creating a new, independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to hold the Government and public bodies to account for their environmental credentials. All three of these areas are closely tied to Brexit, with the UK Government seeking to use the bill as an opportunity to transform the UK's environmental governance following the Brexit transition period. 

More recently, a number of amendments to the Environment Bill have been proposed to the Public Bill Committee for further consideration. These proposals seek to clarify how the OEP should exercise its enforcement powers whilst maintaining its executive independence.

The Environment Bill is currently being considered by a Public Bill Committee, which is scheduled to report by Tuesday 1 December 2020.

 

Conclusion

Whilst it remains to be seen whether the Government's plans will live up to its ambitious objectives, it is certain that, taken together with the Environment Bill, the ten point plan marks a progressive new pathway towards the UK's environmental objectives. The UK will also be hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next year, providing a crucial platform to discuss and debate international environmental issues.


For further information on the Government's plans, please see here.

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