• In Focus

    Mission zero: Independent review of net zero

    By 2050, the UK is legally required to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% from 1990 levels. An independent review considered how this ‘net zero’ target could maximise economic growth whilst also increasing energy security and affordability for consumers and businesses. The review recommended that the government takes action to ensure the UK benefits from the investment and economic growth opportunities that net zero presents.

  • In Focus

    Net zero transformation: Industry and Regulators Committee report

    In March 2022, the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee published a report on net zero transformation, examining the government’s policy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The committee argued that current plans “lack the necessary level of policy detail” and proposed a range of recommendations. This article summarises the report, the government’s and Ofgem’s responses, as well as other developments concerning the UK’s net zero strategy.

  • Research Briefing

    Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: HL Bill 84 of 2022-23

    The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill would give effect to aspects of the government’s levelling up agenda to reduce economic, social and environmental disparities between and within different parts of the UK. It would provide for the government to set statutory levelling up missions amongst other measures, including significant proposals concerning planning in England. A number of clauses were added to the bill during the bill’s passage through the House of Commons.

  • In Focus

    COP15: Global biodiversity framework

    COP15 is an international biodiversity conference held under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). COP15 ran from 7 to 19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. A key outcome of COP15 was the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This set out global goals to address ongoing biodiversity loss. This briefing summarises the conference outcomes and the UK’s other work on biodiversity preservation.

  • In Focus

    COP27: Progress and outcomes

    COP27 is an international climate change conference held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It stands for ‘conference of the parties’ and is the 27th meeting of the parties to the UNFCCC. COP27 was scheduled to run from 6 to 18 November 2022, but it ran into the weekend. It was held in Sharm El-Sheikh under Egypt’s presidency of the COP.

  • In Focus

    Battery strategy: Science and Technology Committee report

    The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the Science and Technology Committee’s report ‘Battery strategy goes flat: Net zero target at risk’ on 23 November 2022. This article provides an overview of the committee’s recommendations and the government’s response. It also summarises recent statements from the government on supporting battery production and development and the expansion of low-carbon technologies.

  • In Focus

    Bird flu 2022: Dealing with the UK’s largest ever outbreak

    In 2022, the UK has experienced its largest outbreak of bird flu, and experts have warned that infections could rise even higher over the winter of 2022–23. The outbreak has led to the death of 97 million birds globally (3.8 million in the UK), with significant consequences for agriculture and the environment. In response, the UK government has imposed mandatory housing for all poultry, amended its culling compensation scheme and relaxed the sale regulations of defrosted poultry.

  • In Focus

    Net zero and behaviour change

    The government has set a target for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Various groups and individuals have argued that behaviour change is essential to meeting this goal. The government has announced some policies aimed at progressing this; however, there has been criticism that its actions do not go far enough.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s horticultural sector

    In recent years, concerns have been raised about the horticultural sector’s workforce, including its dependence on foreign seasonal workers and the existence of a skills gap. The sector’s role in protecting the environment has also been discussed. This article considers both these issues and the government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Storm overflows discharge reduction plan

    The government published its plan to reduce storm overflow spills and their harmful impacts in August 2022. Under the plan, water companies will have to meet several time-bound targets to limit storm overflow use and eliminate ecological harm from their discharges by 2050. The government was required to publish this plan by 1 September 2022 under the Environment Act 2021.

  • In Focus

    Impact of climate change and biodiversity loss on food security

    The world is currently experiencing a food crisis. UK consumers are also facing rapid food price inflation. Both the UK government and international bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have identified climate change and biodiversity loss as major contributing factors to food insecurity in the UK and around the world. This briefing considers the nature and extent of this impact and government policies to improve UK food security.

  • Research Briefing

    Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 33 of 2022–23

    The Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill by Lord Randall of Uxbridge (Conservative). The bill was introduced in the House of Lords on his behalf by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green Party). Amongst its provisions, the bill would require the secretary of state to make provision in regulations “to regulate and limit” the use of bottom trawling in marine protected areas, including a general prohibition on bottom trawling with the possibility for exceptions to support small-scale fisheries in areas where the practice would not cause serious environmental damage.

  • Research Briefing

    Climate and Ecology Bill [HL]: HL Bill 13 of 2022-23

    The Climate and Ecology Bill is a private member’s bill proposed by Lord Redesdale, due for its second reading in the House of Lords on 15 July 2022. This briefing examines the legislation and recent government policy in this area, including commitments on climate and biodiversity.

  • In Focus

    Sewage pollution in England’s waters

    Treated and untreated sewage is released into inland waters and the sea. This is permitted in specified circumstances and is regulated by the Environment Agency, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) and by statute. There has been increasing concern about the level of sewage pollution in England’s waters, and the government has stated that improving water quality is a priority.

  • In Focus

    Draft environmental principles policy statement

    The Environment Act 2021 requires the government to publish an environmental principles policy statement outlining how environmental principles should be interpreted and applied by ministers when making policy. A draft of the first statement to be made under the act was laid before Parliament on 11 May 2022 and is due to be discussed by the Lords on 30 June 2022.