Environmental politics
News of the week: 3rd April 2020

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

The Government has confirmed that COP 26, due to take place in Glasgow this coming November, has been postponed. Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties.

The Government stated that rescheduling will ensure all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place. They added they will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term. Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient. In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement.” More on the announcement can be read here.

The Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into UK’s foreign diplomacy and environmental issues, including the now postponed COP26 and how the FCO interacts and engages effectively across government departments in the context of trade deals and wider global engagement strategies. The remit of the inquiry and how to submit evidence can accessed here.

A Briefing Paper on plastic waste in the UK has been published in the House of Commons Library, including statistics on plastic waste and information on UK Government plans and ambitions to reduce it. However, this comes as the government in England temporarily suspends the carrier bag charge on home deliveries, in order to speed up deliveries and reduce the risk of contamination due to COVID-19. More on the briefing can be read here.

Transport

The UK Government is looking to establish a “virtual” Parliament to enable the ongoing scrutiny of government in the coming weeks and months, with the ambition of this being ready by the time Parliament is due to return from Easter Recess on 21 April. Some select committees, such as the Transport Select Committee, have already taken the digital leap and are receiving evidence online so inquiries can continue. Other virtual proceedings would include oral questions, urgent questions, statements and PMQs. More can be read here

The deadline for the Department for Transport’s consultation into E10 Petrol has been extended. The deadline for written evidence is now 3rd May, due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The consultation relates to government plans to double the concentration of ethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%, a move which could cut 750,000 tonnes of CO2 from UK road transport per year. Further information and a downloadable response form can be found here.

Energy

The London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute has published a note on the effect Covid-19 will have on trading emissions. Key points of the commentary look at why trading schemes could be impacted, what lessons can be learnt from 2008 to preserve the future of UK ETS, what decreased energy demand will mean and the tools that policy makers have to ensure market stability. The full note can be viewed here.

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