Join Chamber Low Carbon and the 2030hub for this free workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals and the benefits to your business.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda ‘End poverty, protect the planet, ensure prosperity for all’ is backed by 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each with hard, measurable targets.
Targets that are impacting each and every business, regardless of size or geographic location, as a combination of public pressure and formal legislation comes into effect to achieve the demanding targets.
And yet awareness of the UN Agenda and the SDGs is low, despite the imminent Government benchmarking report.
Which is why 2030hub is raising awareness through our ‘2030hub SDG Tour: How businesses can benefit’.
• Why is the UN Agenda such high priority?
• What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
• How doing good is good for business
• How your business can benefit
Presented by David Connor, Founder 2030hub
The event will start at 12:00 for lunch and networking, with the session starting from 12:30. Following the session there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and for further networking over refreshments.
The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme.
The 2030hub is the world’s first UN Local2030 Hub, created to make cities better through an entrepeneurial people-centred and intelligence focal point to help accelerate impact reaching the furthest behind first.
Built around the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals) the 2030hub cross-fertilises passionate local with national and international people across all sectors.
David is a creative, big picture connector and communicator with experience across international responsible business boundaries.
Over 20 years he created the award-winning charity at Everton FC, managed the England Amputee Football Squad and has constantly pushed an entrepreneurial approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, especially engagement and communications.
He also worked closely with US based 3BL Media on multiple projects, including integrating CSRwire after acquisition.
David created the 2030hub concept in early 2016 as the UN Sustainable Development Goals were being launched and has already travelled far and wide sharing the success story and learning.
He is also the UK Regional Voice Lead for IMPACT2030, a Regional Champion B Leader for B Corp UK … and a lapsed triathlete.
This workshop is part of a regular Lunch & Learn series giving Lancashire businesses the knowledge and tools to go green. To keep up-to-date with further workshops subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter.
Replacing our wasteful ‘extract: transport: process: use: dump’ manufacturing and consumption system with a modern ‘use: reuse; repair: extend-use: convert: don’t-create-waste-in-the-first-place’ circular economy (CE) is crucial for a net-zero carbon UK by 2050. And everyone can help.
Recent decisions by the Philippines and Malaysia to follow China, India and Taiwan in re-labelling low-grade waste sent by rich countries for processing out of sight and out of mind as “return to sender – not wanted here” has set alarm bells ringing. However, it is also an opportunity.
For too long, developed nations have relied on low overseas wage levels to make waste sorting profitable. With that route blocked, the circular economy (CE) is the natural sustainable alternative.
However, the CE is also crucial to a net-zero UK emissions target. Why create waste in the first place? And with it, dangerous greenhouse gases (GHGs)?
The UK is almost certain to set into legal stone an ambitious world-leading 2050 net ban on GHG emissions – and carbon dioxide in particular.
Although the Government has yet to officially accept new recommendations from its official environmental advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), mounting political and popular pressures will make it hard for ministers to say no.
The CE is one of the key tools that will make achieving this tough target possible. The aim is to control global warming and keep air temperatures rises down to levels where climate change damage is limited. However, CE also means good business!
As mentioned later, on 18th June we will be looking at the environmental and business benefits of CE at a double Circular Economy Club launch in Preston. We would very much like you to join us.
CE aims to replace the linear ‘take, make, use, throw’ system that has driven industrialisation since the 18th century with something that is far more efficient – and cost-effective – than continuously extracting, transporting, processing and finally dumping raw materials from remote sources.
As an alternative, CE also means much lower, and ultimately zero, levels of loss, leakage, landfill … and emissions. The majority of waste, it is often argued, is the result of bad design.
This is quite a mental leap from 70-years of post-WWII throw-away society to a greater awareness of the long-term cradle-to-grave lifecycle of disposable goods that we have learned to take for granted.
The circular economy is described as a regenerative system that replaces the resource-hungry and waste-creating linear economy. However, it is much more than simple recycling. One recent study found that remanufacturing – returning worn parts/products to a ‘like-new’ or ‘better-than-new’ condition – typically uses 85% less energy than original manufacturing from new materials.
The idea is to systematically eliminate all loses of materials, waste, emissions, plus energy, and redirect the savings towards cost-efficient repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing and recycling. Where materials are downgraded, upcycling or beneficiation can lead to higher value products.
For many SMEs, this can mean environmental solutions and business opportunities rolled into one. Innovative products and services that minimise energy use and extend lifecycles in one form or another make good commercial sense.
Such good sense in fact that the most obvious question is perhaps why hasn’t the world taken CE on before? The three-point answer is complacency, the rising cost of commodities and urgent environmental warnings that have together reached a crisis-point. But it is never too late to begin!
Small businesses are the UK economy’s backbone, represent more than 99% of EU businesses and account for 85% of recently-created jobs. They provide two-thirds of the private sector employment.
But when it comes to CE, many busy companies also find themselves hamstrung by shortages of staff, time, resource, funding and information. And this is where our Circular Economy Club can help.
Fortunately, for businesses in the Northwest advice will be available after the co-launch of two Lancashire-based Circular Economy Clubs (CECs) – the Chamber Low Carbon CEC and the Preston CEC. For more detailed information about this free event at Brockholes, Preston New Road, Preston PR5 0AG, and to sign up, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/circular-economy-club-launch-18th-june-2019-tickets-59181763247?aff=ebapi.
Finance is another important factor for many companies. Which is why we are holding “Green Money and How to Spend It” on Wednesday, 5th June – a “Drop In” style launch promoting the Chamber Low Carbon Grant for installing low carbon and energy efficient technologies.
Come and join us at a series of 30 minute seminars from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, see an exhibition of available low carbon technologies, and meet more than 30 exhibitors, at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel BB4 5JP. Details are at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/green-money-how-to-spend-it-wednesday-5th-june-2019-tickets-59181431254?aff=ebapi.
Incidentally, the date has been chosen carefully; 5th June every year is recognised as World Environment Day in some 143 countries. We are also approaching the mid-point of the Year of Green Action 2019. The 5th of June is also the last day of EU Sustainable Development Week.
A major piece of new legislation, and an equally important strategy published by Defra, are both very relevant.
The first is the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill which will define the UK’s post-Brexit environmental regulatory framework. The second is the Resources and Waste Strategy for England.
The latter has a direct bearing on the CE and aims to “preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste”, keep “resources in use for as long as possible to extract the maximum value” and “give old materials a new lease of life”.
One key goal directly affecting businesses as well as local authorities will be new regulations to raise recycling rates from the current 40% to 45% to 65% by 2035. Greenpeace calculates that this will save some £10 billion over a decade in waste sector, greenhouse gas and social costs.
To make this work, Defra has consulted on proposals for businesses and organisations to increase the segregation of their dry recyclable materials from residual waste; ditto for separate food waste that can be collected and composted such that zero goes to landfill by 2030.
Some 2 million mainly small businesses will be affected; Defra says it is keen to minimise the cost burden and improve the collection of performance data. Statutory guidance may be issued.
Ten days of direct action by Extinction Rebellion activists in London over Easter, reinforced by an avalanche of reports and warnings, seem to have triggered high-level action in both the UK and EU.
The CCC now says that the UK’s legally-binding GHG reduction goal of 80% over a 1990 baseline set by the Climate Change Act 2008 must be raised to 100%. It adds that the new total target can be reached with no overall increase in the cost of 1%-2% of GDP each year until 2050.
A date earlier than 2050 would be “very risky” for social and economic reasons, says the CCC, even though mid-century is the last date by which the International Panel on Climate Change says zero must be reached for global temperature increases is to be kept below a relatively safe 1.5OC.
However, the UK is not alone in aiming for a total cut in carbon. In a joint statement, France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – but not Germany – say that the EU must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 “at the latest”.
They add that this can “go hand in hand with prosperity” and cite “profound implications for the future of humanity” with “the heat waves and scorching fires of last summer”. As things stand, the EU uses almost 20% of the Earth’s “biocapacity” for only 7% of the global population; 2.8 planets would be needed to sustain the whole world at the same rate.
To emphasise the point further, a new report from WWF and the Global Footprint Network says that Europeans emit too much carbon, eat too much food, use excessive amounts of timber, occupy too much building space and generally take more than their fair share of the world’s resources. It adds that if the rest of world had the same environmental impact, from 10 May onwards humans would be taking more from nature than the planet can replace annually.
One casualty of net-zero carbon is likely to be aviation. The Department for Transport defends a proposed third runway expansion at Heathrow on the basis that it would “provide a massive economic boost to businesses and communities” across the UK, all at “no cost to the taxpayer and within our environmental obligations”.
Until now, the idea has been to counter-balance expansion with additional CO2 cuts in other sectors. The CCC says this is not an option in a zero-carbon Britain. Yes, people will continue to fly using fuels made from waste, or ultra-efficiency electrical battery storage. But growth must be constrained.
One million species at extinction risk
One other consequence of excessive waste and emissions on the earth comes in a 1,800 page global assessment of the state of nature compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
It explains how “scratches” made on the planet by humans have now become “deep scars”. The world’s population has doubled since 1970. In the same period the global economy has grown four-fold and international trade has increased ten-fold.
The net result is that circa one million of the Earth’s estimated eight million species now face extinction within decades at a rate of destruction tens to hundreds of times faster than the average over the past 10 million years.
Soil degradation is named as a major cause. But so too is the “mountain of waste” that includes a ten-fold increase in plastic pollution since 1980 and 300-400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes released into the seas annually.
All of which makes it even more important to come and join us on 18th June.
The Circular Economy Club (CEC) is an international network in more than 100 countries. It is not-for-profit, global and open to anyone to join for free. CEC’s aim by 2022 is for 200 cities, 200 university curriculums and 200 start-ups and companies worldwide to end the age of waste.
Our inaugural meeting will include a screening of the world’s first feature-length circular economy documentary. “Closing the Loop” which explores five key strategies for achieving circularity – reduce, reuse, recycle, renew and reinvent. This will be followed by a Q&A session with an expert panel, a light lunch and a chance to network with fellow attendees.
We look forward to seeing you in Preston.
We’re bringing together businesses who want to move to a more sustainable future with the launch of our own Circular Economy Club.
The Club is free to join and open to any business or organisation interested in sustainability and tackling the problem of waste. We’ll be running regular events across Lancashire linking people from all sectors of the economy to share best practice and build relationships with like-minded professionals.
We will officially launch our Club with a special event on 18th June at Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston.
In partnership with Circular Economy Club Preston this event will provide an introduction to the circular economy and the aims of the Club. There will also be a screening of the world’s first feature-length documentary on the circular economy, “Closing the Loop”.
We’ll finish with the opportunity to put your questions to a panel of local industry experts before lunch and networking.
The Circular Economy Club is the international network of over 3,100 circular economy professionals and organisations from over 100 countries. Non-for-profit, global and to open to anyone to join the club for free.
We envision a new era where all cities worldwide function through a circular model, setting the end of an age of waste.
We aim to bring the circular economy to cities worldwide by building strong local networks to design and implement circular local strategies, embed the circular economy in the education system and help circular solution scale.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Club or even hosting an event get in touch.
Phone: 01254 356482
New business energy and carbon reporting rule changes don’t affect SMEs … yet … although early volunteers for SECR can benefit. Meanwhile, how big is the UK’s real carbon footprint, can zero-carbon be achieved and is our 80% greenhouse gas reduction target about to get much tougher?
Beware – SECR is coming! In fact, for many “large” companies, SECR arrived on 1st April 2019. Most SMEs, however, will have to wait a while for “streamlined energy and carbon reporting” to fundamentally change how they work.
The alternative, which the Low Carbon Programme recommends, is to volunteer for the best practice scheme designed to help investors assess companies and their proactive climate change commitments.
What exactly is SECR (Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting)? This does seem to be proving to be a bit of a mystery for many UK companies.
SECR is the Government’s method of choice for encouraging business and industry to use less energy, raise productivity, cut costs, increase growth and radically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), including carbon.
However, BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has been accused of introducing SECR very quietly. So quietly, in fact, that with only guidelines and a press release published in the New Year, outlining the full details now is particularly important.
But first, it may help to summarise why carbon made dramatic headlines again during April.
One piece of good news is that Britain broke its own record for the longest continuous period of electricity generation without coal and carbon – more than 90 hours, which is the longest since 76 hours and 10 minutes in April 2018. The UK is also said to have done relatively well compared to the rest of the world in cutting its carbon emissions for the sixth year running – albeit at a slowing rate.
But while a new Government/wind sector agreement for 30% of UK electricity to come from offshore wind by 2030 is positive, other news is less reassuring. Greta Thunberg has questioned whether the UK has really cut its carbon by some 42% since 1990.
The young Swedish climate activist says the official figure only covers “terrestrial emissions”. With aviation, shipping and embedded carbon in imports, the figure is nearer 10%, she told MPs recently.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says the question is complex when global supply chains are involved; its approach follows the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.
Also in April, MPs on the BEIS Committee claimed that 15-years of “turbulent” government policy have held back vital development of the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology needed to achieve zero-carbon. They want more clarity and funding for rapid development.
But MPs have passed a non-binding motion urging the Government to declare an environment and climate emergency. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” in her April SNP conference speech. The Welsh Government has made a similar move.
This was one of the demands of Extinction Rebellion members who, after ten-days of direct action in London, said they were disappointed in a meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove that he declined to back a climate emergency motion tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Perhaps the most far-reaching development moving into May is recommendations from the Government’s advisory body, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that the UK must legislate for a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. More details are mentioned later.
Meanwhile, SECR is designed to help working businesses tackle carbon.
From October 2013, companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, in the European Economic Area, or on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, have had to measure and report their GHG emissions through a robust independent standard that not only presents all data clearly but also shows how it differs from information given in conventional consolidated financial statements.
It was soon recognised that measuring, managing and reducing carbon emissions is an effective way for companies generally to identify their carbon footprints and set important environmental targets within their supply chains.
Until recently, the rules only applied to large listed companies. Now, as a result of the Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations 2018, they are being trickled down to large unlisted businesses through SECR.
Under SECR, qualifying organisations must include new energy and carbon reporting data in their annual reports to cover forthcoming financial years starting within the 12-months leading up to 31st March 2020.
BEIS has communicated via Companies House and the Financial Regulatory Council, Environment Agency newsletters, business trusts and professional bodies – plus EMA and IEMA – and estimates that some 11,900 organisations are affected at this stage – including circa 1,200 quoted companies.
However, because SECR will only apply to financial years starting after 1st April 2019, companies have time to prepare. The earliest reports will be submitted in April 2020, meaning that companies can put new systems in place and synchronise them with existing corporate reporting cycles.
SECR builds on – but does not replace – existing requirements, such as Mandatory Greenhouse Gas (MGHG) reporting for quoted companies, the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Climate Change Agreements (CCA) Scheme, EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Climate Change Levy increase. It also coincides with the end of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.
What happened on 1st April 2019 is that SECR updated the rules and extended the requirements not only to quoted companies but also to all unquoted companies or limited liability partnerships (LLPs) seen as “large” under the Companies Act 2006.
“Large” is generally defined as meeting two of the three following criteria within a reporting period: – having more than 250 employees; an annual turnover greater than £36 million; and/or an annual balance sheet greater than £18 million.
Quoted companies, according to the Carbon Trust, must continue to report their “global scope 1 and 2” (direct and indirect) GHG emissions in CO2-equivalent tonnes (all seven gases under the Kyoto Protocol) within their Directors reports, plus at least one emissions “intensity ratio” for current and previous reporting periods.
However, they must now also report their underlying global energy use split between the UK and offshore countries, again with previous year comparisons after the first SECR reporting period.
Unquoted large companies and large LLPs now have to report at a minimum their UK energy use from electricity, gas and transport fuels (in company vehicles, including reimbursement for employee business mileage, but not external air, rail or taxi journeys, or third party contractors), plus associated GHG emissions and at least one intensity metric – such as tonnes of CO2/kWh for the energy sector, or tonnes of CO2/m2 for the property sector
Reporting must include a description of steps taken to improve energy efficiency in the relevant year, plus resulting savings if known. Where no measures are taken, this should be reported.
Although no specific methodology is prescribed, the selected methodology must be shown and be robust, transparent and widely-accepted. Scope 3 “corporate value chain” indirect emissions should also be given, with the voluntary disclosure of any additional sources of energy or GHG emissions.
There are of course exceptions. Although local authorities, government departments and statutory agencies are not covered by SECR, they report carbon in their annual reports under other legislation. Devolved administrations have their own systems. Not-for-profit bodies, such as companies and LLPs owned by universities or NHS trusts, come under SECR rules.
Another important area for clarification is the distinction between group and subsidiary level SECR reporting – the rule is to avoid duplication on an either/or basis. One other sub-group is companies within the SECR definition using no more than 40MWh. They must submit total energy calculations but also state why they are low energy users.
A further area for temporary exemptions is sensitive situations, such as takeovers, where releasing information could arguably be prejudicial. Also, if specified data cannot be collected in a specific year, it is important to explain why, the impact and how it will be provided in future.
Business is increasingly concerned about emissions. Legal & General Investment Management – covering £1 trillion of UK pension funds – believes the world faces a climate catastrophe that businesses must tackle urgently or risk losing shareholder support. Director of Corporate Governance, Sacha Sadan, says L&G is getting tougher with boards and managements.
In parallel, Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and his counterpart, François Villeroy de Galhau, warn that companies and industries which don’t meet dangers facing the global economy “will fail to exist”. They add that: “Carbon emissions have to decline by 45% from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital”.
The CCC says meeting the popular call for net-zero emissions by 2025 is not practical but can be achieved by 2050.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set the current 80% target which the CCC agrees has achieved a 43% cut since 1900, with economic growth of 66%. To meet a 100% target, it recommends big cuts in red meat-eating, millions of new trees, onshore wind turbines, more electric vehicles (EVs), less flying, less waste, plus more households replacing domestic gas boilers with renewable alternatives.
On CCUS, the Government’s 2030 ambitions have been described as “so broad as to be meaningless; BEIS select committee members say delay could double the cost of meeting the UK’s climate change targets from 1% of GDP in 2019 to 2% by 2050.
UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 2.5% in 2018 compared to 3% in 2017 and 16% in 2016 – making a total of 43.5% since 1990. This means that theoretically at least, Britain is over halfway towards its self-imposed commitment of an 80% reduction by 2050. However, this was the easy half.
Specifically, UK CO2 emissions fell by 2.4% to 364.1 million tonnes while global releases reached a 2018 all-time high, rising by 4.7%, 2.5% and 6.3% in China, the US and India. But there is potentially bad UK news on the horizon that needs urgent action.
Having beaten its first and second carbon budgets by 36 MtCO2e and 384 MtCO2e, with an 88 MtCO2e surplus predicted for the third from 2018 to 2022, BEIS acknowledges that the UK is on course to breach its fourth and fifth budgets by 139 million and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
The Chamber Low Carbon programme is happy to support Connecting East Lancashire as a fantastic initiative helping people engage in active commuting. Not only is cycling or walking to work great for health and well-being but it is also an effective low carbon option both reducing emissions and improving air quality.
Connecting East Lancashire is a Department for Transport funded project delivered in partnership between Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Through a variety of initiatives, the project supports businesses, organisations and colleges in East Lancashire (Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen) to increase health and well-being through smarter travel choices as well as opening up access to work opportunities for apprentices and job seekers.
Businesses will have the opportunity to engage in:
To find local cycle routes please visit www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/hyndburn-cycling-map-p747390
The Project Officers cover different areas of East Lancashire and these are detailed below along with their relevant contact number:
We’re host a joint event on 12th June at the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce offices. Drop-in anytime between 7:30am and 10am and take part in these activities:
Lancashire businesses will be urged to play their part in the fight against climate change in order to achieve Government ambitions to be net carbon neutral by 2050.
One simple way that businesses can support this is to switch to renewable power, and Lancashire-based energy consultant Businesswise Solutions is on a mission to empower this change, by bringing market access to renewable energy to mid-sized companies without a price premium for the privilege.
“Previously, access to competitive renewable energy products has long been monopolised by some of the largest corporations, or only available to small and medium sized businesses at a premium,” explains Businesswise Solutions’ managing director Frazer Durris.
“But we’re working together with businesses to help embrace the switch to a 100% wind-based energy option that won’t cost companies the earth; but might just help save it.”
The company will harness its group buying power, combined with its use of intelligent data, to empower Lancashire businesses to collectively spearhead action against climate change.
Frazer added: “It has never been a more relevant time to purchase renewable energy rather than carbonised, unclean energy for your business.
“Consumers are demanding change and the economics behind purchasing renewable power are starting to make good business sense. Our renewable offering presents Lancashire businesses with a risk-free way to contribute towards the effort and embark on their carbon reduction journey.”
The company will leverage its network of supporters in order to reach businesses and spread the word about the renewable energy option.
Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This a fantastic news for the area. It underpins exactly what we are trying to achieve through our Chamber Low Carbon programme and supports Lancashire’s journey to a green future.”
The initial, short-term target is to pool a total of 100GWh annual energy consumption and shift this from brown to renewable energy, representing a reduction of 16 kilo tonnes of CO2; that’s equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted from 3000 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
“If we can achieve this, it’s a great start to making a significant contribution towards the national carbon targets set,” Frazer concluded.
Find out how you can access funding to help your business install renewable energy technology or energy and resource management measures available to Lancashire SMEs via the Chamber Low Carbon Grant.
On the day there will be a full programme of insightful and thought-provoking seminars highlighting the challenges and opportunities afforded by renewable technology – see below for the detailed agenda so you can schedule your visit.
The Low Carbon Marketplace will house over 30 exhibitors highlighting the latest technologies available from Chamber Low Carbon’s Lancashire-based solution providers.
The event will start at 10am – registrations and refreshments from 9:30am. The event will run until 4pm. Don’t worry if you cannot make the full session – we’d be delighted to see you for part of the day.
Welcome & Grant Overview – Miranda Barker, CEO, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
The Green Energy Basket – Peter Catlow, Director, BusinessWise Solutions
A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment – Ellyse Mather, 25 Year Environment Plan Pioneer Programme Manager, Environment Agency
Introduction to Local Energy – James Johnson, Head of Regional Programme, Local Energy North West Hub
Leading the NW to Zero Carbon – Helen Boyle, Strategic Decarbonisation Manager, Electricity North West
Latest View from Boost – Andrew Leeming, Senior Project Manager, Lancashire County Council
Zero Hour – Charley Rattan, Energy Consultant
Grant Summary, Q&A & Close – Stephen Sykes, Programme Manager, Chamber Low Carbon
How the UK finally decides to leave the EU could affect our future ability to cut carbon emissions and the strength of post-Brexit environmental regulations. Meanwhile, one of the few certainties we do have is increasing evidence of climate change in action and more extreme weather.
Post-Brexit environmental regulation?
As an uncertain March moves into April, the UK’s political strife over Europe could have a significant impact on Britain’s world-leading low-carbon transition plans.
Westminster’s Brexit war is sending long-term ripples not only through Whitehall’s ministries but also the UK’s legally-binding carbon reduction commitment. But developments far away from London have made headlines too in the last month.
For example, what links our coastal mudflats, the UK’s ultra-long-range 25-year weather forecast, Greenland’s rain and climate-friendly milk? The answer is that they’ve all made recent carbon news.
Before looking at these later, it’s worth mentioning that mudflats may be surprisingly interesting. New research shows that our remote fens and wetlands could be super-efficient “sleeping giants” in locking away the CO2 driving global warming.
All plants store carbon. However, instead of decaying, the carbon from marshland plants is buried permanently. As sea levels rise with climate change, the new layers of sediment they wash in will help to store millions of tonnes of CO2 and also raise the level of the wetlands. A neat trick!
But first it is important to look at events closer to home.
Energy & Environmental Forum – coming soon
A more immediate question for North West companies is probably what links Brexit, Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s draft Environment Bill, the views of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and East Lancashire Chamber’s first Energy and Environment Forum which is currently being arranged.
The answer is again carbon. However, this time it concerns new proposals for regulation that on the surface look robust but could have a major underlying weakness.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Officer of IEMA, is a lead figure in the national debate on these issues and a strong supporter of our new Forum where he will be a guest speaker in the near future. The Forum’s aim is to keep larger companies fully-informed about key environmental, energy and carbon issues and channel their views, comments and concerns back through the British Chambers of Commerce to ministers and Government.
Regulatory successor to the EU
Many people sense a post-Brexit opportunity. The Government says it wants its new environmental regime to be at least as good as – and better than – that developed over 40 years with the EU. Surveys show strong public support. A consultation in 2018 received more than 1,750,000 responses.
IEMA also sees this as an opportunity to break away from a system that is an “unnecessarily prescriptive, compliance driven, reactive (rather than strategic) and complex approach to the environment” and “poor at anticipating new issues” – such as single-use plastics and low air quality.
It adds that some parts of society are pursuing unfair and short term economic gain at a cost to the long-term prosperity for everyone.
Working with the Federation of Small Businesses, Water UK, the Wildlife Trusts, business and environmental stakeholders, academics and professional bodies, its Broadway Initiative has developed a Blueprint to advice ministers what an effective Environment Act needs to include.
Work in progress
In the interim, in December 2018, Defra published two key documents in tandem. In one, Mr Gove explained his vision for natural capital to remain as “one of the UK’s most valuable assets”; with a “pioneering” new green governance system to improve air quality, restore and enhance nature, improve waste management and resource efficiency and similarly improve surface water, ground water and wastewater management.
The other was a policy paper partial draft of clauses for a new Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill that will eventually set the framework for a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) watchdog for England and put the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing with a very pro-environmental agenda.
The draft clauses include environmental principles such the ‘polluter pays’ and public participation in decision-making. The bill also proposes a legal requirement for a government plan to improve the environment which is updated at least every five years, with annual progress reports to Parliament.
Dog with blunt teeth?
However, many organisations including IEMA feel that the proposals are “not world leading yet”, “EU-lite” and too weak to replace the powerful European Commission/European Court of Justice structure that currently enforces environmental governance in the UK.
A key flaw is seen in the transfer of all EU/ECJ powers to the shoulders of just one person – the Secretary of State for the Environment – whoever he or she will be in future. Without a ferocious watchdog, will future governments be tempted to dilute away bêtes noires – such as losing three times in a row in the High Court for failing to tackle poor air quality?
There is also concern over the implementation of new laws if future chancellors see regulation as an expensive economic drag. In question are the bill’s “principles and objectives” which could be legally binding, or simply designed to guide policy, the development of legal frameworks and fill in missing legislation.
Four decades of progress
Some 80% of UK environmental law has been developed in partnership with the EU since 1973. Most is already subject to UK court rulings and will remain as part of UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
In the EU, environmental protection pervades all policies and laws. The ECJ adds interpretation and precedents to strengthen implementation and enforcement. The new draft bill, say Ministers, should simply “have regard to” principles and objectives set out in a policy statement created by the environment secretary – and this is not directed at regulators, agencies, the courts or third-parties.
Interestingly, EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, insists on a “non-regression” clause in any future trade deal to maintain high standards; July 2018’s Brexit White Paper promised “no regression” from existing EU regulations in air quality, water pollution and waste management.
IEMA also questions the proposed OEP’s independence because it does not meet its ‘independence tests’ and resourcing and appointments will be made by the secretary of state.
Martin Baxter has explained that while the proposals contain some promising provisions, “Lots more needs to be done to bring the draft bill up to the level of ambition needed for a comprehensive environmental governance framework that will deliver the future we want.”
IEMA fears the bill has a number of “escape clauses”; it says OEP proposals must be judged on accountability, resourcing and appointments to determine its independence. The watchdog must report directly to parliament, which should allocate appropriate resources, not the Government.
It adds that key appointments – particularly the chair of the new body – need direct Parliamentary support to establish public confidence and trust from the start.
The Broadway Initiative is very clear on what the final Bill should look like and has identified Nine Pillars of Governance it feels must be addressed in the Environment Act.
They include: objectives, targets, milestones and metrics; underlying principles; a process to produce plans at national level; maps and plans for the place-based (local community) environment; clear responsibilities for key actors; well-aligned incentives; effective enforcement; purpose-driven feedback loops; and independent oversight
Responsibility as the new default.
Specifically, IEMA wants to see a “paradigm shift” towards direct environmental responsibility in two potential areas. The first is an environmental duty of care for all organisations. The second is activity-specific “net gain” responsibilities for developers, utilities and others with influence over natural assets.
Duty of Care for the Environment could push society towards taking local environmental responsibility where businesses and people are best placed to resolve problems early at source, rather than relying on the Government to make rules at a distance.
‘Environmental net gain’ covers activities that can make a positive environmental impact. Just as the 25 Year Environment Plan puts new responsibilities on developers, the same could apply to others owning, managing or controlling land or resources, such as water and energy companies.
IEMA believes that this in time could create a self-generating positive force for a better environment. Organisations could adopt a net gain obligation in return for more flexibility about how they apply it.
As mentioned earlier, the crucial carbon sink role of coastal wetlands has been highlighted by University of Wollongong in Australia where scientists have shown that they could be “awoken” by rising sea levels as glaciers and ice-sheets melt in a warming atmosphere.
However, as Patrick McGonigal of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre in Maryland, US, points out: “The important question is how many wetlands will remain wetlands and how humans manage the land adjacent to them.”
The RSPB’s Alex Pigott from Hesketh Out Marsh on the Ribble Estuary adds that muddy marshes may not be “chocolate box images of the countryside” but are “exciting dynamic habitats”.
25-year rain forecast
In March, the Environment Agency warned that despite extreme wet weather during the month, climate change and population growth mean that England will not have enough water to meet consumer demand within 25-years.
CEO Sir James Bevan told a London Waterwise Conference that England would reach the “jaws of death” – a carefully chosen phrase – of inadequate water supplies in 20 to 25 years. He added that he wants wasting water to be “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby” with people in England cutting their daily use from 140 litres to 40 litres by 2050.
Winter precipitation over Greenland is now falling not as snow, which thickens the ice, but as rain that melt it.
Cows as ruminant are major methane-emitters. However, one dairy cooperative, Leeds-based Arla Foods, says it will make more than 2,000 UK dairy farms cow-to-supermarket carbon neutral by 2050.
The Vegan Society thinks this isn’t possible. Arla Foods admits its goal is “ambitious” and will require “radical changes” that include new technologies. However, as the EU’s largest farming cooperative, it wants to neutralise all CO2 produced by it 10,300 member dairy farms by mid-century.
With so much going on, it’s time for a green cuppa!
Presentation slides for the Lunch & Learn workshop ‘Fit for Purpose’ The Principles of Lean Production held on 4th & 8th March 2019 in Blackpool & Accrington respectively.
Led by Graham Leather of Graham Leather Consulting & Coaching.
They may not seem like much but small leaks can be big source of waste and be costing you money. Let us help you identify areas of waste and what you can do about it.
This free lunchtime workshop in Accrington will cover the following topics:
The workshop will be led by Ged Heffernan, founder and Managing Director of Fern Innovations. Ged has a track record of achievements during more than 20 years of operations and programme management within corporates including: Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, Renold Chain, Mercedes-Benz F1 and IndyCar. Building upon this led to engagement in technology based start-ups as founder, owner, CEO, Non-Executive Director and Consultant.
Fern Innovation is a consultancy providing support to start-up, SME and corporate businesses in developing and delivering new product introduction and growth programmes, with particular focus on Renewable Energy, Cleantech, Manufacturing and Energy.
The event will start at 12:00 with lunch and networking, with the session starting from 12:30. Following the session there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and for further networking over refreshments.
The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme.
This workshop is part of a regular Lunch & Learn series giving Lancashire businesses the knowledge and tools to go green. To keep up-to-date with further workshops subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter.
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