Action to reform the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, reduce deforestation, protect marine life, value natural assets and cut emissions from heat are just some of the UK’s environmental news stories in recent weeks. New plans for the teaching of climate change in schools have been put under the spotlight; a U.S. tidal energy company announced plans to establish operations in Scotland; the UK’s new Chief Scientific Adviser started his post; and a new Energy Minister was announced.
On March 20, 2013, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, delivered his Budget to Parliament. Amid concern over energy shortages and lagging infrastructure decisions, HMG was keen to demonstrate momentum for new energy projects. The Chancellor touched on plans for new nuclear, and the next stage of the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage competition, but reserved his focus on energy for the development of shale gas.
The launch of HMG’s Green Deal, a summit on climate change legislation, and the Prime Minister’s defence of his Government’s green growth agenda has marked the first few weeks of 2013. In other news, the Government has responded to a report by MPs on protecting the Artic, the UK has signalled support for greater protection for polar bears, and experts have called for a plan to protect the UK against a solar superstorm.
On December 11, Prime Minister Cameron gave evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee on the issue of “green government.” The Prime Minister said his Government has the “most incredibly green set of energy policies and I think we can be very, very proud of them. I think there are few countries in the world that come anywhere close to what Britain has done and is proposing to do.”
As MPs begin their summer recess, it has been a busy few weeks for Ministers who have been promoting the “greenest Olympic games” ever, pressing for international and local action on climate change, publishing the draft Water Bill, and taking forward the steps taken at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The debate over the Government’s support for green growth gathers pace, as DECC plans to publish details on renewable energy subsidies. Gloomy skies and heavy rainfall in the UK has led to questions over the Government’s flood defense budget. The Met Office has produced analysis of historic weather for each of the Olympic venues and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed for some British summertime.
During a May 30-31 visit to the UK, U.S. environmental justice advocate Majora Carter spoke with students at London’s Lambeth Academy about environmental urban renewal and the economic benefits it engenders. Ms. Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, a non-profit with a focus on urban green collar job training. Since 2008 she has led a consulting company specializing in green economic growth. Her work has earned her multiple awards, including a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. Check out a quick video from her visit after the jump.
The Green Investment Bank, electricity market reform and proposals for the water industry all made it into the Queen’s Speech on May 9, and environmental groups and business leaders are pressing for further details on Government plans. A proposed tidal barrage across the Severn estuary, the Government’s commitment to green growth and the UK’s springtime weather has also made the headlines.
Energy Ministers from 23 of the world’s leading economies gathered together in London last week for the third Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM3) to help accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies. A joint press release was released from Energy Ministers outlining commitments made on energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy access, and other cross-cutting initiatives. Under pressure from green groups, UK Government Ministers were keen to demonstrate their renewed commitment to be the “greenest government ever” and give a clear vision to investors in renewable energy.
London is set to host the Clean Energy Ministerial amid debate in UK politics over the direction of green policy and the cost of environmental measures to families and businesses. The Coalition Government has made announcements on fracking, investment in climate science, the green deal and EU emissions targets, and MPs have called on the government for greater clarity on the “outsourcing” of carbon emissions abroad.