environment news: 30th October
The Natural Capital Committee has published its response to the 25-year environment plan progress report. The response sets out a natural capital asset framework, and demonstrates how this natural capital framework can be applied to independently scrutinise progress. It highlights starkly that the government is not on course to achieve its objective to improve the environment within a generation. Read the full response here.
Two Select Committee chairs have written to Environment Secretary George Eustice, calling for transparency around the proposed 'interim' Office for Environmental Protection. Delays to the Environment Bill mean that the proposed new OEP, designed to hold the government to account for breaching environmental responsibilities, will now not be established as planned in time for the end of the Brexit transition period. the two Committee Chairs ask for guarantees about the independence, governance and budget of the new body. Read the full letter here.
The DEFRA Select Committee has scheduled a new evidence session as part of its inquiry into air quality. In the session taking place on Tuesday 3rd November, MPs will hear from government leader including Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, about how COVID-19 may have slowed progress on reducing air pollution, how to balance air pollution with economic growth, and local approaches to health inequalities, public transport, and active travel. Read more about the session here.
The Campaign for Better Transport has urged the Chancellor to support sustainable transport as part of a green recovery. In a letter, it outlines four key areas where the Treasury should act to encourage the use of sustainable transport – including cost, public transport, sustainable infrastructure investment and zero-emission vehicles. Amongst the recommendations are to accelerate the clean-up of transport through a green recovery programme to support job creation. Read the full letter here.
Network Rail is to become the first rail company in the world to set emissions targets to limit global warming to 1.5C. Around two-thirds of the railway's emissions are generated by suppliers, so as well as working on elements within its control, the organisation is working with its wider supply chain, such as manufacturing and construction companies, to help them to set their own targets. All of the energy used to power its stations, depots and offices already comes from renewable sources. Read more about its targets here.
A coalition of environmental groups is putting pressure on the government to ban burning of England’s peatlands. The coalition, including RSPB, Friends of the Earth and National Trust, points out plans were announced by the government last year to ban peatland burning, but it has failed to deliver. Data suggests that up to 260,000 tonnes of CO2 is released every year from burning on peatlands; removing this source of CO2 pollution would be equivalent to taking more than 175,000 cars off the road. Read more about the coalition’s call here.
Baroness Bloomfield (Con) has laid an Order for the establishment of a UK-wide greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme. She stated that the UK ETS would support the UK in pursuing their climate ambitions by enhancing the UK's carbon market signals. Once the Committee on Climate Change’s latest advice emerges in December 2020, the government will consult within nine months on what the trajectory for the UK ETS cap should be for the remainder of the first phase. Read more about the Order here.
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