• In Focus

    The 1.5-degree celsius global warming threshold: Could it be breached in 2024?

    At the 2015 UN climate change conference, the international community agreed to make efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. Since then, global temperatures have continued to rise, with record-breaking temperatures in 2023. The UK’s Met Office has projected that 2024 could be even warmer, with the 1.5-degree threshold temporarily exceeded. This briefing summarises the background to the 1.5-degree threshold, and what actions the UK government is taking to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

  • In Focus

    UK contribution to international development: Mitigating the impact of climate change on developing nations

    The UK government spent £12.79bn in official development assistance in 2022. A portion of this support was focused on mitigating the impact of climate change on developing countries, including through measures outlined in the government’s international development white paper and through contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s green climate fund. However, some stakeholders have called on the government to provide further support, particularly in relation to its spending commitments.

  • In Focus

    Agricultural fungicides: Impact on long-term food and biological security

    Agricultural fungicides are pesticides which are used to prevent or control plant disease caused by fungi. They can help ensure food availability, affordability and safety. However, they can also have negative environmental effects and exposure to chemical pesticides has been linked to a higher risk of chronic disease in humans. The government is due to publish a revised national action plan on the sustainable use of pesticides by the end of 2023.

  • In Focus

    Mopeds, motorcycles and the powered light vehicle industry

    Powered light vehicles (PLVs) are a category of smaller, lighter vehicles, including mopeds and motorcycles. Zero emission PLVs can contribute to reducing congestion and air and noise pollution. The government consulted in 2022 on ending sales of new non-zero emission PLVs by 2035, but the industry argues this is unrealistic. It is not clear how the government’s decision to delay the date for ending sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans affects this proposal.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • In Focus

    Behaviour change for achieving climate and environment goals: Environment and Climate Change Committee report

    In October 2021, the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee published a report which examined the government’s approach to encouraging behaviour change to achieve its climate and environmental goals. The report found that the government’s approach at the time was “inadequate to meet the scale of the challenge”. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the report on 7 June 2023. This article examines the report and the government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Woodland cover and grey squirrels

    The government has committed to halting nature decline in the UK and improving natural habitats. Grey squirrels, which are a non-native species to the UK, cause damage to natural habitats by stripping bark from trees in order to eat the sap beneath. This In Focus article looks at the government’s policies on supporting woodlands and controlling the grey squirrel population.