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The UK’s Environment Bill Moves Forward

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The UK’s Environment Bill Moves Forward

At the end of October, the government’s UK Environment Bill moved one step closer to becoming law following its second reading by MPs. The primary objective of the bill is to address some of the most significant environmental challenges that exist today, including improvement of air quality and reduction of plastic waste.

Any laws passed as a result of the bill will create legally binding targets, along with an Office for Environmental Protection, of whom will have the power to enforce climate change legislation. As a result of this, the government will be able to be held to account over its 2050 net zero emissions target, a vast step forward in the UK improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gasses.

With Brexit deliberations continuing, the progression of the bill is vitally important. However, whatever the outcome of Brexit, passing the bill will mean the UK’s environmental policies will be protected, even if we do leave the European Union.

Opening the second reading, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “This Government recognises the profound importance of the great environmental challenges of our time. We are the first government to set the goal that this generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than it was bequeathed to us. And this is the first government to make a legally binding commitment to become a net zero carbon economy. This is a truly landmark piece of legislation, enshrining environmental principles in law, requiring this government and its successors to demanding and legally binding targets and creating a world-leading environmental watchdog to hold them to account.”

During the debate, many MPs expressed support for the Bill but raised points about the Office for Environmental Protection’s independence and funding, as well as how the targets system will work. Air quality, water and plastics were also discussed.

Closing the debate, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The substance of this debate is the greatest issue of our time. The Environment Bill will make a much-needed step change to protect and enhance our environment. There are big ambitions in the Bill, and rightly so. We must talk about all the issues in Committee, and I hope that everyone will join in. This is a transformative Bill that will give a whole new approach to environmental protection and enhancement.”

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