• In Focus

    Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL]

    The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Bird (Crossbench), inspired by legislation passed in Wales in 2015. It aims to ensure UK policymaking accounts for the interests of future generations. The House of Lords has debated the subject twice in recent years. The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 25 June 2021.

  • In Focus

    Hungry for Change: Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee report

    In July 2020, the House of Lords Food, Poverty and the Environment Committee published its report: ‘Hungry for Change: Fixing the Failures in Food’. The committee found that the UK’s food system—the production, manufacture, retail and consumption of food—“is failing”. It made a series of recommendations built around the central aim of ensuring that everyone, regardless of income, has access to a healthy and sustainable diet.

  • Research Briefing

    Environment Bill: Briefing for Lords Stages

    The Environment Bill would establish a new environmental governance system, including the setting of long-term targets and the creation of an Office for Environmental Protection. It also includes measures on improving air quality, waste management and recycling, water management, biodiversity and conservation covenants. The bill is due to have it second reading in the House of Lords on 7 June 2021, having been carried over from the last session.

  • In Focus

    Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL]

    The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] would enshrine the recognition of the sentience of vertebrate animals in domestic law. It would also establish an animal sentience committee that would report on whether government policymaking considers that animals are sentient beings capable of feeling emotions and experiencing pain.

  • In Focus

    Climate change targets: the road to net zero?

    In 2019 the Government amended the Climate Change Act to commit the UK to achieving net zero by 2050, compared to the previous target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The Government has introduced some policy initiatives to meet net zero, but the Climate Change Committee has said the UK is currently not on track to meet its carbon budget targets in 2025 and 2030.

  • In Focus

    Public engagement with the Government’s net zero target

    The Government passed legislation in 2019 legislating for the UK to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Commentators and the Government have highlighted the need for public engagement to help achieve the target. This article looks at what has been said about the issue and what the public’s attitude and awareness is.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2021: agriculture and animal welfare

    The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto included a commitment to reform UK agriculture and improve animal welfare. During the 2017–19 session, the Government passed the Agriculture Act 2020 and supported a private member’s bill extending sentences for animal cruelty. The Government has said it will introduce legislation banning the live export of animals in the new session. It has also said it will introduce legislation on the recognition of animal sentience when parliamentary time allows.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2021: environment, climate change and energy

    The Government has confirmed the Environment Bill will be included in the 2021 Queen’s Speech, a bill carried over from the 2019–21 session. The Queen’s Speech is also likely to refer to the Government’s commitment to reduce UK carbon emissions and the 2021 UN COP26 conference hosted in Glasgow. The Government has said that it will publish in 2021 further details of strategies to improve UK biodiversity, including the England tree strategy.

  • In Focus

    Biodiversity

    Declines in biodiversity could lead to economic and political instability and potentially threaten the survival of life on earth. The Government has taken a range of steps to counter biodiversity loss, although measures of success are mixed. The independent Dasgupta review has recommended placing monetary values on natural capital. Two forthcoming international conferences provide opportunities for further global initiatives on biodiversity.

  • In Focus

    Net zero and integrated policymaking

    In June 2019, the UK legislated to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises government on emissions targets, stated that the target “requires extensive changes across the economy”. To achieve this, the CCC and others have called for better coordination of net zero policies within central government, with local and devolved governments and with other public bodies.

  • In Focus

    Renewables obligation scheme: changes to energy supplier payments

    The renewables obligation scheme provides support for generators of renewable electricity. The costs of the scheme are met by energy suppliers. These costs are then passed on to consumers. When suppliers fail to meet their obligations under the scheme, the resultant shortfall is mutualised if it reaches a certain threshold and must be met by other suppliers. The Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2021 would raise the shortfall threshold which triggers this mutualisation process.

  • In Focus

    Government investment programmes: the ‘green book’

    The Government’s ‘green book’ describes how major public sector investment projects are assessed. In March 2020, the Government announced a review of the approach, to improve how the green book supports strategic priorities such as its ‘levelling up’ agenda and the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The review’s conclusions were published in November 2020, followed by a revised green book in December 2020.

  • In Focus

    Peatland burning: New regulations for blanket bog habitats

    In February 2021, the Government introduced new regulations banning the burning of certain types of vegetation on protected blanket bog peatland without a licence in England. On 18 March 2021, the House of Lords will debate a motion criticising the new regulations as not adequately protecting peatland or reducing UK carbon emissions. This article summarises what the regulations do and what the reaction to them has been since they were announced.