Political insights — weekly round-up

Each week, Greenhouse Public Affairs will provide a policy and political insights report across sectors including energy, transport and the environment. 

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Energy

The government announced this week the details for the next round of the Contracts for Difference scheme, with onshore wind and solar PV technologies to be included in the next auction which opens in 2021. This effectively lifts the moratorium placed on the development of onshore wind since 2016. The move is packaged as part of the Year of Climate Action and an early milestone in the lead up to COP26.  The aligned consultation can be viewed here and closes on 2nd May for those who would like to contribute to the future design and delivery to the renewables trading scheme. 

The Treasury Select Committee has launched an inquiry into decarbonisation of the UK Economy and Green Finance. Its first session will take evidence from sector leaders, asking if the Treasury is playing its part in net-zero. The witnesses include representatives from the Green Alliance, Energy Transition Commission and Aldersgate Group. The session on 10th March starts at 9.45am and will be open to the public (more information) and details of the inquiry can be found here, along with the transcript when published. This inquiry will form an important examination of government progress in financing emissions reductions. 

A competition has been launched by the Ministry for Housing to ensure our homes are fit for the future – with design and manufacture plans to deliver low carbon and age friendly homes that can reduce energy bills, emissions and improve quality of life. Visit the Home of 2030 site to find out more.  

Alok Sharma, BEIS Secretary of State, announced a £36.7m investment for the development of electric planes, ships and road vehicles, creating 4 centres of excellent across the UK. From this investment (£6.7m) 14 projects will recieve funding to support supply chains.

Alongside this announcement, the Prime Minister has chaired the first Cabinet level Climate Change Committee, having announced its creation in October of last year. The scope of the committee is to review government departments actions towards climate change mitigation and consider its COP26 approach. Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Chancellor will be permanent members, alongside the Chief Scientific Officer and senior officials.  

Transport

Transport for London has published a statement on its London’s Vision Zero Action Plan. This particular statement focusses on the newly introduced 20mph speed limit on central London roads. While this has mainly been done for safety reasons to reduce the number of road deaths in the city, there is also a positive impact on air pollution as vehicles travelling at 20mph, as opposed to 30mph, produced fewer harmful particulates.  

A Bill has been introduced in the House of Lords to hasten the transition to zero-emission buses. Supported by Campaign for Better Transport, the Buses (Zero Emissions) Bill, proposed by Baroness Jenny Randerson, would prohibit the sale of new diesel-powered buses after 2025, and ensure that all buses on the road are zero-emission by 2035. 

The government is consulting on plans for E10, a lower carbon fuel made with up to 10% ethanol, to become the standard grade of petrol at UK filling stations from next year. Current petrol grades in the UK already contain up to 5% bioethanol, known as E5. E10 would see this percentage increased up to 10%, a blend which is already well used in other countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Germany. By transitioning to E10, the UK could cut CO2 from transport by 750,000 tonnes per year. The announcement is the latest in a series of measures to support the decarbonisation of transport, including funding for pioneering low carbon fuels, which are expected to save nearly 85 million tonnes of CO2 between 2018 and 2032. 

Environment and COP26

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced funding for community groups to create 68 new Pocket Parks, transforming neglected urban spaces into thriving green havens for the whole community to use. The new parks and green spaces will provide new areas for children to play, outdoor fitness facilities for residents, and places for families and friends to come together. More information can be found here.  

The Environment Bill Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. If you have expertise in this field, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee. The Bill covers two broad themes. Firstly, providing a new domestic framework for environmental governance. Secondly, making provision on specific environmental policy areas including waste, air quality, water, nature and biodiversity, and conservation covenants. More information can be found here

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

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