• In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Agriculture, natural environment and animal welfare

    After announcing it would not be progressing the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, first introduced in the 2021–22 session, the government has committed to take animal welfare measures forward as single bills, including proposals on pet abduction. The government also intends to use secondary legislation to end the keeping of primates as pets and ban American XL bully dogs. On the natural environment, consultations are being held on hedgerows and water quality.

  • In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Energy security and net zero

    The government has committed to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions and household energy costs while increasing energy security. In September 2023, the government announced it would be pushing back some of its previously announced net zero related deadlines, including those for the transition to electric vehicles and the phasing out of fossil fuel boilers for off-gas-grid homes. This briefing provides a summary of the government’s recent announcements.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Science—part 2 (October 2023)

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are changing medical diagnostics. Trained on vast datasets of images and research, AI tools are designed to interpret scans, refine images for clinical review and map anatomy ahead of treatment. AI has the potential to save clinician time, costs and workload. This briefing presents a range of studies on applications, accuracy and challenges.

  • In Focus

    ‘Investing in energy: Price, security, and the transition to net zero’: Economic Affairs Committee report

    In February 2022, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into how the government could support investment in UK energy in order to achieve greater security of supply, improve affordability and meet the UK’s net zero targets. This article summarises the committee’s conclusions and the then government’s response to its recommendations. It also provides an overview of subsequent developments in the government’s energy policies.

  • In Focus

    Cleaning up failures in water and sewage regulation: Industry and Regulators Committee report

    In 2022 the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee launched an inquiry into the work of the water regulator, Ofwat. It considered issues including the discharge of sewage by water companies and whether Ofwat was promoting sufficient investment in water and sewage infrastructure. This article summarises the committee’s conclusions and recommendations, the response to the report from both the government and Ofwat, and the conclusions of a follow-up inquiry held in summer 2023.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Environment (September 2023)

    There have been several large wildfires this year, including in southern Europe, Canada and Hawaii. These have taken place during a period of record high temperatures around the world. This article considers the environmental impact of these recent wildfires, and the significance of climate change.

  • In Focus

    The future UK-EU relationship: Report by the House of Lords European Affairs Committee

    Since the Windsor Framework was agreed in February 2023, the UK and the EU agree their relationship has been on a positive trajectory. In light of this, a recent House of Lords committee report made recommendations about further opportunities for UK-EU cooperation on foreign policy, defence and security, energy security, climate change and mobility of people.

  • In Focus

    Climate change-induced migration: UK collaboration with international partners

    Climate change is likely to increase migration flows over the coming decades. Increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events are expected to increase “forcible displacements”, and the “slow-onset” impacts of climate change are expected to make the hardest hit regions uninhabitable. The UK is involved with several international forums which aim to discuss and cooperate on these issues.

  • In Focus

    The role of nuclear in the UK’s energy supply

    The government has outlined its ambitions to significantly increase the UK’s nuclear power capacity, arguing it is the only reliable energy technology available that is able to provide a baseload level of low-carbon electricity on a large scale. However, such plans have faced criticism, particularly regarding the cost and deliverability challenges associated with large-scale nuclear projects. This article considers the debate around the future of nuclear power ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject on 7 September 2023.

  • In Focus

    Artificial intelligence: Development, risks and regulation

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is developing at a rapid pace. From generative language models like ChatGPT to advances in medical screening technology, policymakers and the developers of the technology alike believe that it could deliver fundamental change across almost every area of our lives. But such change is not without risk. Debate is ongoing on how best to regulate these innovative technologies and differences of approach have already emerged internationally as countries across the world examine how best to adapt.

  • In Focus

    Making the most out of England’s land: Land Use in England Committee report

    In December 2022 the House of Lords Land Use in England Committee published its report into land use in England. The committee noted the increasing number of demands on land and argued for the creation of a land use commission. This would oversee the development of a land use framework, to enable stakeholders to make the best decisions for land. It also made other recommendations. The government responded to the committee in April 2023.

  • In Focus

    Preparing for climate change

    Climate change is expected to have significant impacts across a range of domestic policy areas. Both the government and the independent Climate Change Committee, a statutory advisory body, agree on the need for significant adaption efforts to mitigate related risks. This summer the government is due to publish the latest edition of its five-yearly national adaption programme. This will detail how it plans to go about addressing climate risks and comes 15 years after the Climate Change Act 2008 became law.

  • In Focus

    Charging ahead? Future of the UK car industry

    In recent years, concerns have been raised about the state of the UK’s car industry. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents car manufacturers in the UK, has reported that manufacturing decreased every year from 2016 to 2022. In addition, various companies have announced UK plant closures or capacity reductions. Concerns have also focused on the future of the industry. This article considers the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and examines one of the main challenges to this: the domestic production of batteries for EVs.