In the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May, the Queen outlined the laws that ministers intend to pass in the coming year. One of these is the Environment Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons in January 2020. The Environment Bill has since been delayed three times, with ministers stating that the Covid-19 pandemic left too little time for debate.
The Environment Bill includes various measures aimed at environmental protection. It will place a duty on ministers to ensure environmental considerations are central to policy development, establish new environmental principles and legally binding targets following the UK’s departure from the EU. It also includes the creation of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – a new environmental standards regulator in England. The Queen’s Speech also reaffirmed the UK government’s commitment to the net zero by 2050 emissions target.
Through the National Infrastructure Strategy, the government aims to “transform UK infrastructure in order to rebuild the economy, level up the country, strengthen the Union and achieve net zero emissions by 2050”. Key to this plan is the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB), which will launch later this year. UKIB will be able to deploy £12B of equity and debt capital and £10B of guarantees and is expected to support more than £40B of infrastructure investment overall.
There are a variety of plans due to come out this year that should include further detail on the government’s thinking, including an overarching Net Zero Strategy, Transport Decarbonisation Plan, and the Treasury’s Net Zero Review. It is important that these outline clear policies alongside ambitions if the UK is to reach its net zero goal. This parliamentary session will also see a Downstream Oil Resilience Bill published in draft form to support a secure transition away from fossil fuels to renewables as we go further to tackle climate change. It will provide the government with a strengthened ability to protect fuel supply resilience and prevent supply disruptions from occurring.
Michael Phelan, Chief Executive and Co-founder at GridBeyond said:
“The Bills proposed establish a good baseline for putting sustainability at the heart of our economy, but now is the time to translate net zero ambition into tangible action, clarity on interim targets and the direction of travel. With just a few months until the UK hosts the COP26 climate talks, environmental issues should be high on everyone’s agenda.”
“Many of large industrial and commercial businesses around the country are already taking steps to increase their sustainability and reduce emissions through demand response actions or installation of onsite technologies. When designing new policy mechanisms, ministers should ensure large industry is appropriately incentivised to deliver flexibility to the grid, increase its resilience and advance emissions reductions.
“By taking action to reduce demand or feed in supply at times of electricity system peaks, the UK’s businesses prevent the need for the grid to rely on fossil fuel generation – reducing overall emissions from the power sector. The appropriate valuation of these services, could support I&C sector in making the business case for installation of renewables on-site generation or energy storage technologies, bringing forward further future benefits for the wider economy.”
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