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Long-term targets essential to success of Environment Bill

19th December 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the Draft Environment Bill, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “We welcome the government’s ambition to establish a world-leading green governance framework. Progress has been made in several areas of the government’s proposals such as improving the Office for Environmental Protection’s powers on enforcement, although there is still work to be done to ensure as strong an enforcement system once the UK has left the European Union.

The pre-legislative scrutiny process should aim to reinforce the progress made on governance arrangements, by in particular clarifying how the Office for Environmental Protection can be set up in a way that best ensures its proper independence, elevating the government’s statutory duty to act in accordance with environmental principles rather than just have “regard to” the policy statement and broadening the scope of the policy statement to include the government’s fiscal and spending decisions.”

Nick Molho added: “It is welcome to see confirmation from government that they are exploring the inclusion of new environmental targets in the Environment Bill. Businesses have repeatedly welcomed the environmental improvement ambition shown in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan but without the clarity provided by underpinning legislation, sufficient business investment to deliver natural environment improvement goals will not be forthcoming [1]. As we have seen following the impacts of legislation on waste, vehicle emissions and climate change, clear objectives in the Environment Bill, backed by the introduction of statutory measurable targets and delivery policies, will unlock business investment in new technologies, production processes, facilities and products [2]. An ambitious Environment Bill backed by clear targets will deliver environmental and economic benefits for the UK and cement its reputation as a world-leader in environmental action.”

—ENDS—

[1] Multi-sector business support for the introduction of environmental goals in the Environment Bill can be seen in a letter to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph published on 4 November.

[2] BuroHappold Engineering (December 2017) Help or Hindrance? Environmental regulations and competitiveness was commissioned by the Aldersgate Group and is based on business interviews studying the impacts of three key environmental regulations in the buildings (London Plan), waste (Landfill Tax) and car (EU Regulations on passenger cars) industries. It concludes that the compliance cost attached to each regulation has been more than offset by the economic benefits they have triggered. These include greater business investment in innovation and skills, better quality and performing products and infrastructure, greater business competitiveness and net job creation.

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Resources strategy: a good start but more action needed in 2019

18th December 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “With 80% of a product’s environmental impact determined at the design stage, this Strategy is a welcome step forward in that it moves the focus of England’s resources and waste policy beyond just recycling and towards the early stages of a product’s lifecycle. We welcome in particular the intention to consult on new rules for extended producer responsibility schemes, the plan to broaden their scope to include a wider range of products as well as the intention to introduce product standards setting minimum resource efficiency criteria, which together could have a significant impact in improving the quality of products put on the market. 

The intention to take greater consideration of social and environmental impact in public procurement decisions and the potential introduction of clear eco-labels, product assurance schemes and warrantees could, subject to the final details, also play an important role in driving the demand for resource efficient products and secondary materials. We would urge the government however to also consider the role of fiscal incentives such as VAT rebates in driving consumer uptake and to exceed its goal of doubling resource productivity early as research suggests far greater improvements are possible.”

Nick Molho added: “Despite the positive sense of direction provided by this Strategy, a lot of the measures announced today are either subject to consultation or at an early exploratory stage. It will be essential for the consultations and actions referenced in the strategy to make rapid progress in 2019. Greater resource efficiency is critical to cutting waste, cutting emissions and improving the competitiveness of our economy and it is essential that the Brexit process doesn’t result in further delay to policy progress in this area [1].”

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group was a partner on the REBus project, an EU LIFE+ funded project that demonstrated how businesses can implement resource efficient business models and thus generate, financial, material and greenhouse gas savings. The REBus project ran 30 pilot schemes across a range of market sectors in the UK and the Netherlands, including electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT. If the savings secured by these pilots were applied across the EU, resource efficient business models could secure an increase of up to £280bn GVA for the EU economy by 2030, a reduction in material demand of 184 million tonnes and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 154 million tonnes CO2eq. See Aldersgate Group (June 2018) No Time to Waste: An Effective Resources and Waste Strategy and (January 2017) Amplifying Action on resource efficiency: UK edition.

RWS