Has the government done enough with the publication of its environmental plan?
On the 11th of January, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a 25 year plan to “nurture” the environment, referring to it as a “national plan with international ambitions“.
The Policy Paper called ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment‘ has received both a warm welcome and wide criticism for not going far enough.
The Independent lead with a headline asking whether the policy is ‘fundamentally flawed’ because it provides little in the way of legislation to back up ambition.
Others, such as the WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) saw the 25-year plan as a potential turning point which would allow us to restore the environment rather continuing to destroy it.
Friends of the Earth’s welcomed a long-term vision but called for urgent action now, and Greenpeace called for a detailed 25-month plan, rather than a 25-year vision.
For me though, whilst it does not deliver as much detailed policy as some would like, it does set out broad themes that the nation simply has to tackle and for that reason alone, it is to be welcomed as a starting point.
More than just plastic
The primary focus of all the news coverage centred on the extension of the 5p charge for plastic bags and certainly, plastic has rightly become a major topic of concern.
But the policy document focuses on more than just plastic waste and in that sense, it does set out the topics that everyone – business, individuals and government, need to discuss with more urgency to make sure we do indeed leave a planet fit for future generations.
As a manufacturer of energy-consuming equipment, we realise that we too have our part to play in helping reduce the amount of energy, and therefore carbon emissions, that modern life produces.
Solutions already exist
The other reaction that I’ve only really seen in the comments to various news reports, is awareness that a lot of the solutions needed actually already exist and that if we focus on these, that will help to make a real difference.
This is certainly true in the area of the buildings we all work, rest and play in. We know there are low-carbon ways of keeping our built environment comfortable places to live. We also know that the industry has the skills and resources to capitalise on these low-carbon technologies.
And with regards to legislation, many businesses will already shout “enough already”.
Yet more is set to come…
We are entering an age where energy use will come into focus as never before and we will start to see this have real impact from April when the full effects of the Minimum energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) start to bite.
Extensions of the ErP (Energy related Products) Directive will also see large commercial heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment face the same requirement for energy labelling as domestic washing machines, fridges and TV’s, and this will help fuel the drive for efficiency.
So, whilst some feel that the government should have added more ‘teeth’ to their environmental policy, we should all welcome what is definitely a move in the right direction and there is a lot for us all to work together on.