All change, no change, says Martin Baxter

19th July 2017


The outcome of the UK general election marks a shift in the balance of power. With no overall majority, the process of forming a government and setting out a legislative programme became significantly more challenging.

Deals are being struck and compromises are being made. Meanwhile, the Brexit clock continues to mark the time when the UK will leave the EU.

From an environment and sustainability perspective, while the Cabinet and ministerial reshuffle has changed some of the key people, the priorities remain as they were.

Most pressing is the need for government to finalise and implement an air quality plan that will deliver improvements to ensure that legal limits for NO-x and PM10 in urban areas are met. The stakes are high – with an estimated 40,000 people dying prematurely from poor air quality, this must be a high priority. There’s also the small matter of a court order to comply with.

The transposition of EU law into UK law through the ‘great’ Repeal Bill will be critical. While the government’s plan is to maintain the “operable status quo” through this process, this won’t be easy in terms of chemicals regulation, renewable energy targets and carbon emissions trading.

A number of separate bills announced in the Queen’s Speech will also be important – the Agriculture and Fisheries Bills are inextricably linked to environmental protection; ensuring these are framed in a way that they contribute to enhancing natural capital, which is the government’s stated aim for the environment, will be important. So too will be the Customs and Trade Bills; it is essential that these enshrine sustainability at their core.

The other pressing concern is the ongoing delay to the publication of the government’s carbon emissions reduction plan. It is a year since the fifth carbon budget was approved by parliament, and the Climate Change Act requires the plan to be published “as soon as reasonably practicable” after the carbon budgets are set. Don’t be surprised if, as with air quality, government is hauled before the courts for failure to set credible plans for environmental improvement.

Martin Baxter, chief policy adviser at IEMA @mbaxteriema

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

How much is too much?

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close