Asim Ali, IEMA’s Public Affairs Officer, examines the UK Government's policy announcements from July and how they affect the goals of decarbonisation and environmental sustainability. This blog post is part of a monthly series that also reflects on the activity of relevant select committees and all-party parliamentary groups.

Prime Ministers Office:

In an official statement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declared the UK Government's plan to grant hundreds of new oil and gas licenses. This decision comes as the Government reinforces its support for the North Sea oil and gas industry, aiming to bolster Britain's ‘energy independence’. Further updates and progress regarding this decision will be communicated as they develop.

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):

New rules put into effect by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are meant to encourage equity and openness in the dairy industry. Farmers now have more effective means of contesting prices and raising issues with supply agreements, ensuring they are fairly compensated.

A government consultation on expanding the Environment Agency's ability to enforce financial penalties for a wider variety of environmental offences in England has ended. The civil penalty cap will be removed under the new legislation, and its reach will be greatly increased to cover a wider range of environmental offences. The outcomes of the consultation can be found here.

The annual progress report on the 25 Year Environment Plan has been published by DEFRA. Additionally, the government has created an Outcome Indicator Framework, which consists of a group of indicators that describe environmental change in relation to the 10 goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan. See here for further details.

A strategy paper on the 10-point plan for financing biodiversity has also been released by DEFRA. This is a plan for dealing with the global nature financing gap and managing the major threats that biodiversity loss poses to the world economy and public health.

Finally, DEFRA recently launched a land use blog to offer regular updates on a range of land use-related subjects. The blog will address issues related to planning and infrastructure, biodiversity net gain (BNG), nutrient management, the land use framework, local nature recovery plans, and other topics.

Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ):

The UK government is putting plans into action to increase energy market competition and innovation, giving British consumers better access to energy deals and more control over their energy consumption. The Minister for Energy Consumers and Affordability, Amanda Solloway MP, is introducing a number of measures, such as tariffs with lower prices at particular times of the day, intelligent chargers for EVs that automatically use the lowest charging rate, and chances for consumers to invest in renewable energy and receive electricity bill discounts in return.

To hasten the UK's transition to a net-zero energy economy and meet its net-zero goals, DESNZ has confirmed stricter emissions limitations for high-energy industries. Starting in 2024, these changes will impose new limits on emissions from industrial, power, and aviation sectors. The UK demonstrates its commitment to long-term decarbonization and continuing its leadership position in the reduction of carbon emissions internationally.

In order to encourage a more creative energy retail market, DESNZ is inviting evidence. The consultation is open until 18th September and seeks opinion from diverse stakeholders in recognition of the critical role the energy retail market plays in promoting decarbonisation and assisting consumers.

A policy paper describing the department's goals for a healthier energy retail sector was also recently published. With the proposed changes, customer service will be improved and consumers would be helped at times of high energy prices.

The department is also looking for information on ways to make it easier for businesses to switch from fossil fuels to electricity. The subject matter is currently up for consultation until 20th October.

Select Committees

Environment and Climate Change Committee:

The Environment and Climate Change Committee has recently released its report on Protected Areas. The committee asks the government to act urgently in order to meet the "30 by 30" target, which calls for the protection of 30% of the UK's land and waters by the year 2030. The need of protecting and preserving vital natural areas and biodiversity is emphasised in the report.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee:

The government has been encouraged to create and finance a compensation programme for farmers and land managers by the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee. This program's objective is to mitigate any potential negative effects on their way of life that could result from the return of particular species. The committee's recommendation aims to find a balance between conservation initiatives and promoting the financial security of individuals employed in the agriculture industry. More information is provided here.

The committee has also started a survey in order to learn more about farmers' experiences with improving soil health. The results of the survey will be a useful contribution to the committee's continuing investigation into soil health. The investigation's objective is to evaluate how well the government assists farmers in halting soil erosion and encouraging soil restoration.

Environmental Audit Committee:

An inquiry on heat resilience and sustainable cooling is now being conducted by the Environmental Audit Committee. In order to comprehend the effects of rising temperatures on people's wellbeing, the investigation will dive into the relationship between heat and health. It will also examine how well present government policies are working to meet the need for cooling solutions now and in the future.


Environment APPG:

The Green Alliance, serving as the secretariat of the Environment APPG, hosted their summer reception. Both Ed Miliband MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero, and Matthew Palmer, the US Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in London, provided their viewpoints on the present environmental and climate challenges during this event. They also talked about the appropriate responses to the critical global emergency these problems pose.

Net Zero APPG:

A paper debunking common misconceptions about the net zero agenda was published by the Net Zero APPG. The purpose of the report is to clarify widespread misconceptions about the pursuit of net zero emissions as well as to expose errors and false information. The study aims to develop a better awareness of the potential and challenges in the journey towards a net-zero future by offering accurate and trustworthy information.

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


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