Environment Bill in the Queen’s Speech

The Environment Bill made a comeback in the Queen’s Speech on Friday. This features provisions on water resource management as well as air quality, nature recovery and waste/resource efficiency.

Her Majesty said: “My Government will continue to take steps to meet the world-leading target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It will continue to lead the way in tackling global climate change, hosting the COP26 Summit in 2020. To protect and improve the environment for future generations, a bill will enshrine in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets, including for air quality. It will also ban the export of polluting plastic waste to countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and establish a new, world-leading independent regulator in statute.”

The new government has been widely urged to act quickly and decisively on decarbonisation, including from the Committee on Climate Change, which wrote to Boris Johnson setting out its key priorities for the new government on tackling the causes and effects of climate change.

Greenpeace UK’s policy director, Doug Parr, said: “The Prime Minister has an opportunity, with February’s Budget, and the expected transport decarbonisation plan, to prove he means more than just words. We need hard commitments to invest billions in protecting people, homes and businesses from climate chaos, and to end the internal combustion engine in new cars and vans by the end of next decade.

“Boris Johnson admitted that the climate emergency is a 'colossal' issue. He now has a colossal majority to get on with tackling it and avoid the colossal consequences of failure.”

Observers also pointed out there was no non-regression clause for environmental standards in the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill that was voted for by MPs on Friday.