News of the week: 1st May
Each week, Greenhouse Public Affairs will provide a policy and political insights report across sectors including energy, transport and the environment. You can sign up to our weekly round-up here.
Environment and COP26
New analysis released by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) points to strong economic and climate change advantages if governments were to adopt green stimulus packages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It finds that if governments don’t roll out low carbon development strategies and policies - or roll back existing climate policies - in response to the coming economic crisis, emissions could rebound and even overshoot previously projected levels by 2030, despite lower economic growth in the period to 2030. Full analysis can be found here.
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Pollution, Geraint Davies, has called for evidence to inform plans on how air pollution can be reduced in the long-term. In a letter, Davies said: “The risk is that once lockdown is lifted, more people may opt for personal private modes of transport in order to protect themselves from catching the virus, therefore increasing the levels of pollution.” The full letter, along with the process for submission of evidence, can be found here.
DEFRA has published its latest statistics on air quality in the UK, covering the trends in concentrations of five air pollutants. Among the findings, there was an increase in days with moderate or higher pollution at urban sites in 2019 compared with 2018, against the established trend of an ongoing decline. The main driver of this change is an increase in ozone, due to prolonged hot and sunny conditions over the summer. The full statistics can be accessed here.
The Transport Committee have widened the scope of its inquiry into the implications of coronavirus for the transport industry. MPs will consider the issues affecting consumers and industry, taking a detailed look at aviation. It will examine the financial position of airlines and airports, address passenger and consumer issues such as refunds, and assess how air travel will work as restrictions are eased. The deadline for submissions is now Monday 29th June. More details about the inquiry can be found here.
An investigation by The Guardian has revealed that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps promised airline EasyJet not to increase green taxes on airlines, six months before receiving a £600m coronavirus loan with no environmental strings attached. This comes as airlines across Europe were set to receive more than €26bn for coronavirus bailouts with no binding environmental conditions. The full Guardian article can be found here.
Nature-friendly farmers responding to COVID-19 are calling for people to support local, seasonal produce, in a new report by the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN). It shows how many farm businesses have been forced to adapt overnight to deal with sudden disruptions and increasing demand from local communities. On top of those challenges, farmers are concerned that future trade deals could soon undercut the high standards set up by UK farmers. The network supports over 1,000 farmers across the UK that are working around the clock to produce nutritious food while delivering benefits for the environment and reversing wildlife decline. The full NFFN report can be accessed here.
The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Phillip Dunne, has urged the government to take action amid warnings that the UK could run out of water within 20 years. The Committee on Climate Change has forecast that the UK's total water supply will drop by 7% by 2045 due to climate change. Within its recent report on Water Supply and Demand Management, the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that more concerted action is needed now, to prevent parts of the south of England running out of water entirely. In 2018, DEFRA announced plans to establish a personal water consumption target for households but it is yet to be introduced. The full correspondence can be found here.
The government has laid out plans for a consultation on future support for low-carbon heat. The consultation sets out proposals for a Clean Heat Grant, supporting heat pumps through an upfront capital grant to help address the barrier of upfront cost. Heating of homes, businesses and industry is responsible for a third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, and decarbonisation of heat is one of the biggest challenges in meeting climate targets. Details on the consultation can be accessed here.
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