Environmental politics
News of the week: 24th April

Each week, Greenhouse Public Affairs will provide a policy and political insights report across sectors including energy, transport and the environment. You can sign up to our weekly round-up here.

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Environment and COP26

New information has come to light on the by-election for Chair of the Business, Energy and industrial Strategy Select Committee. Former chair Rachel Reeves stood down from the position after her promotion to the Shadow Cabinet as the new Shadow Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster. Candidates for the role have not yet been announced, but are expected to come forward shortly. More information on voting plans were announced by Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, and can be found here.

COP26 President Alok Sharma gave opening and closing remarks at the Placencia Ambition Forum, discussing upcoming COP26 plans.

The focus of the forum was to drive climate action and ambition in Nationally Determined Contributions in the lead up to COP26 and beyond in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In part of his speech, Sharma said the following: “We will work with business, countries and international organisations to support the transition to renewable energy sources. And we will seize the economic and social benefits of innovations in clean energy and energy storage. We will work to clean up the air we breathe by seeking to accelerate the global transition to zero emission vehicles and phasing out petrol and diesel engines.

We will work night and day to encourage everyone to raise their ambition on tackling this threat of climate change.” His full speech can be read here.

Transport

The Transport Committee has launched an inquiry into e-scooters, to explore safety and legal implications, their impact on congestion, and the potential contribution to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK is currently the last major European economy where e-scooters are banned everywhere except on private land. The committee is calling for written evidence on:

  • Whether the legislation for e-scooters is up to date and appropriate;
  • To what extent e-scooters have positive benefits, for instance relating to congestion and promoting more sustainable forms of transport;
  • Where in the urban environment e-scooters could be used (e.g. road, pavement, cycle lanes), and how this could impact on other road users and pedestrians, including people who have visual impairments or use mobility aids;
  • Whether there should be advice or compulsory requirements to use specific safety equipment when using an e-scooter;
  • Whether there should be safety and environmental regulation for the build of e-scooters, and what this might entail; and
  • The experience of other countries where e-scooters are legal on the roads

More can be read about the inquiry here.

Energy

A new report by Oil & Gas UK shows drilling levels are expected to fall back to the lows experienced in 2016, down more than a third on previous forecasts.

The report warns of a possible 20-30% decrease in capital investment for 2020 as well as the potential that the operators in the sector will experience negative cash flow this year.

The report also claims production from the UK Continental Shelf is enough to provide 63% of the UK’s oil and gas needs and 46% of the country’s total energy. The full report can be accessed here.

Finance

The Grantham Research Institute is calling for post-Covid recovery packages to quicken the pace to net-zero carbon emissions.

In its commentary, the Institute states: “Once this immediate health crisis starts to stabilise, the focus will turn to prevention of future outbreaks and planning for the recovery. A global programme of repair is needed. Here, we have the strategic responsibility to, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “recover better”.

Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a ready-made guide for such a recovery.”

The full commentary can be read here.

If you would like to talk to Greenhouse about political engagement and public affairs, email us at public.affairs@greenhousepr.co.uk

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