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A ‘green economy’ can be defined as one in which the economic value of protecting the environment is recognised and economic growth does not negatively affect the environment. The independent advisor body the Committee on Climate Change has identified different ways to achieve this in the UK. These include increasing the supply of low-carbon electricity and increasing the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. The committee has also argued progress is needed in areas of the economy where carbon reduction has proved difficult to achieve, such as transport, buildings, and agriculture.

The Government has said that it is possible to grow the UK economy, improve environmental standards and meet its international obligations to reduce carbon emissions. It has argued the development of low carbon technologies would benefit the UK economy as well as reduce carbon emissions, including through the creation of new jobs. This would in part be funded through the expansion of private sector investment in environmental schemes, referred to as ‘green finance’. The Government has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Government has also made commitments to reduce environmentally damaging waste and increase recycling. These were set out in the 25-year environment plan, published in 2018. Measures to help reduce the amount of environmentally harmful waste created in the UK are also included in the Environment Bill. This was originally introduced in the 2019 session but was reintroduced in 2020. The bill includes provisions such as the introduction of an extended packaging producer responsibility scheme. This is intended to ensure producers of packaging are responsible for the net costs of managing waste arising from their products, including the cost of their disposal.

The Committee on Climate Change has said the Government has set out the right priorities to achieve its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, it has argued the Government is not currently on track to meet this target. It has argued progress has been delayed due to a lack of cross-government coordination.

On 12 March 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Baroness Parminter (Liberal Democrat) that “this House takes note of the case for investing in, and embracing, a green economy that promotes resource efficiency and zero carbon usage”.


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