Facing criticism for recent policy reversals which have resulted, for example, in falling investment in clean energy in the U.K. in 2016 and 2017 , the government has recently attempted a re-set with its policy document: A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment , released on January 11. “Conservatives’ 25-year green plan: main points at a glance” (Jan. 11) in The Guardian summarizes the initiatives, which focused on reducing use of plastics (in line with a recent EU decision), encouraging wildlife habitat, and establishment of an environmental oversight body. Specifics are promised soon; the Green Alliance provides some proposals in “Here’s what Theresa May should now do to end plastic pollution” (Jan. 11). George Monbiot is one of many critics of the government policy, in his Opinion Piece.
In the lead-up to the long-term Green Future policy statement, other recent developments have included: 1. Changes to investment regulations to encourage divestment. “Boost for fossil fuel divestment as UK eases pension rules” appeared in The Guardian on December 18 , stating: “in what has been hailed as a major victory for campaigners against fossil fuels, the government is to introduce new investment regulations that will allow pension schemes to ‘mirror members’ ethical concerns’ and ‘address environmental problems.’ The rules are expected to come into force next year after a consultation period and will bring into effect recommendations made in 2014 and earlier this year by the Law Commission. ”
2. Coal Phase-out: Also, on January 4, the British government responded to a consultation report by announcing CO2 limits to coal-fired power generation. By imposing emissions limits, the government seeks to phase out coal-fired power by 2025, but still to allow flexibility for possible carbon capture operations, and for emergency back-up energy supply. The consultation report, Implementing the end of unabated coal: The government’s response to unabated coal closure consultation , capped a consultation period which began in 2015. The government’s policy response is summarized in the UNEP Climate Action newsletter here (Jan. 5).