Asim Ali, IEMA's Public Affairs Officer, looks at some of the key policy announcements from UK government during March and their implications for the decarbonisation and wider environmental sustainability agenda.

This blog entry is the first in a series that will be published at the end of each month looking back at key announcements made by government and other relevant activity on sustainability issues taking place in Select Committees, All-Party Parliamentary Groups and other spaces within Westminster and Whitehall.

Electricity market design

Following the end of the review of electricity market arrangements, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has produced a report on the results of the consultation.

This was to ensure that the UK’s electricity market design was fit for purpose for maintaining energy security and affordability for consumers as the electricity sector decarbonises. As we progress towards increasing electrification of heat, transportation, and industry over the next ten years, it is increasingly important that market configuration is done in the right way.

Climate Change Committee

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) recently released a thorough report on the UK's energy system and potential future decarbonisation pathways. It examined the reasons why the government must take control of the UK's energy system by removing obstacles to obtaining planning approval and issues with the national electricity grid, as well as by constructing wind farms and other forms of renewable energy required to reach net-zero goals.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Environment Audit Committee, Philip Dunne MP, has criticised the government for appearing to ignore the committee’s proposals to speed up the decarbonisation of energy supply.

Powering Up Britain

The government's new net zero plans, notably Powering Up Britain, have drawn harsh criticism from environmentalists and groups for being underwhelming and potentially failing to put the UK on the pathway to achieving the legally binding net zero goals by 2050. This has also been echoed by the Green New Deal APPG who have said that if the UK is to have any chance of meeting the impending net-zero deadlines, it must embrace creative, community-based solutions to environmental and energy issues.

IEMA took a more positive stance on the government’s recalibrated net zero strategy. We were particularly pleased to be recognised as a key collaborator with government around skills development for the decarbonisation transition.

Heat and building policy paper

The government has also released its heat and building policy paper, which outlines its strategy for significantly reducing carbon emissions from the 30 million homes and workplaces in the UK in a straightforward, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly manner while ensuring that this remains fair and affordable for households across the nation.

In addition to lowering energy costs and improving lives, reducing carbon emissions can support up to 240,000 skilled green jobs by 2035, accelerating the nation's economic recovery, levelling the playing field across the board, and ensuring that we rebuild better.

Retained EU Law Bill

In other news, companies, environmental groups, and the governor of the Bank of England are urging the government to renounce the Retained EU Law Bill because the legislation could jeopardise 1,800 environmental laws. Similarly, businesses are pressuring the government to enhance rather than weaken environmental laws. Weakening or repealing these laws could have negative effects on a number of areas, including biodiversity, public health, animal welfare, and environmental protection.

The Environmental Outcome Reports, which are expected to replace the EU-derived procedures for environmental assessment, are presently the subject of consultation by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.

Part 6 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will give permission to implement Environmental Outcomes Reports, a new environmental evaluation technique. The theory is that the government will be able to replace the EU-inspired practises with ones that are more geared towards accomplishing our environmental objectives. This is massive for IEMA’s impact assessment community and the Institute will be putting together a response to the consultation setting out our views on the risks and opportunities of regime change.

Resource productivity

In order to achieve net zero emissions, resource productivity in the circular economy will be crucial. According to a study by Green Alliance, the construction industry's carbon emissions could be reduced by nearly 40% through the use of circular economy policies and practises within 12 years. Given the significance of mineral research and development initiatives for renewable energy technology, the Department for Business and Trade has also announced a £15 million boost.

Critical minerals strategy

A policy paper on the UK's critical minerals strategy has been produced by government, and it outlines a strategy for strengthening the resilience of critical mineral supply chains in order to protect British industries in the present and the future, facilitate the transition to clean energy, and maintain national security. The plan outlines how we'll expand our domestic capabilities, work with partners abroad, and develop global markets.

The UK’s strategy follows Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy released in December 2022 and the Australian government’s plans to develop a new 2023 Critical Minerals Strategy.

Photo of Asim 2
Asim Ali

Public Affairs Officer

Asim joined IEMA in May 2022 as a Public Affairs Officer. Prior to joining IEMA, Asim worked in a variety of roles for three Members of Parliament and interned for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He also holds an MA in Human Rights, Globalisation & Justice


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