There is enormous potential in the Government’s plans for a new bill to protect and enhance the UK environment. But as Nick Schoon explains, the proposals are ambiguous and have some severe shortcomings
Green GB Week celebrates 10 years since the Climate Change Act was passed. This was a truly groundbreaking piece of legislation which took UK commitment to reducing carbon emissions to another level and showed the rest of the world what government leadership on tackling climate change looks like.
Yet 10 years on, the UK's commitments - and its actions - are no longer quite so groundbreaking. While it's positive to see the government encouraging business and the public to tackle climate change, and to hear about proposals for a new ‘green watchdog’, there are many concerning contradictions in the UK government's policies that do not add up. The fact that fracking in this country is starting again today for the first time since 2011 is perhaps the starkest example of this.
Of course, carbon emissions are only part of the environmental picture. But the IPCC report, the ever-increasing unusual weather patterns and the recent news about the arctic sea ice all show we really seriously need to think about how we are going to achieve a zero-carbon economy. I don't believe we are on that path with current commitments.
We have seen with the recent action on plastic that large-scale and quick action is possible - with individuals, companies and the government all playing their parts. The public expects to see action on climate change and they expect their government to be leading the way - not falling behind.
I would like to see the government work hand-in-hand with the Committee on Climate Change, which was established to help the Government to deliver on the Climate Change Act, as well as wider business and civil society leaders to become a pioneer once more.