In November the government temporarily put Covid to one side and placed its focus on all things environmental by announcing a self-styled green industrial revolution.
According to Boris, the 10 steps below will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, particularly in the Midlands and the North of England, as well as in Scotland and Wales. Good news for all it would seem, but do the measures go far enough?
Let’s take a look at what changes are actually included:
1.A move away from petrol and diesel:
Probably the announcement that received the most media coverage was the news that there will be a ban on combustion engine sales by 2030. Along with this there will be grants for electric cars and funding for charge points. It also stated that the sale of some hybrid cars and vans could continue until 2035. Whilst this is fabulous news, and a much needed boost for clean air, we must ensure we are truly ready for the change and that the move to electric is a fully sustainable one. Indeed, it is true that electric vehicles will mean a whole lot less pollution will be pumped into the atmosphere, but the manufacture of the lithium batteries that power electric cars is highly reliant on raw resources. The importance of recycling these batteries needs to be pushed far higher up the agenda to lessen the reliance on natural elements and for electric vehicles to become a full-circle sustainable solution.
2.Working towards wind
This is a pledge to quadruple offshore wind power by 2030, to 40GW, enough to power every UK home. This move has widely been welcomed by most but would require a £50bn investment and the equivalent of one turbine installed every weekday for the whole of the next decade. Experts are less worried about the level of investment needed but more concerned about meeting the scale and speed at which this is required. They have doubts that the licenses and contacts can be granted at the record speed required, but let's watch this space...
There is a promise of a town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade. However, Greenpeace have called this, along with nuclear measures, speculative solutions that do little to take us to zero emmissions.
Boris has announced a £525m investment towards new nuclear power, based on “the next generation of small and advanced reactors”.
5.Funding for insulating homes
£1bn has been put aside next year for funds to insulate homes and public buildings. This will be done using the existing green homes grant and public sector decarbonisation scheme. Some have argued that this money was already earmarked and that it is misleading to include this as a new action on the agenda.
This measure sees an extra £200m earmarked for carbon capture initiatives. These include technologies that inject factories’ carbon dioxide deep underground. This type of solution could be highly significant in re-directing carbon emissions away from pollution contribution to true second life use.
Another announcement is the support for greener energies. This will focus in particular on the aviation and maritime sectors, with £20m committed to the latter.
As we all know planting trees is extremely important and the government has committed to ensuring 30,000 hectares of trees are planted every year. This will form part of the UK's nature conservation efforts.
9.Public transport promotion
No schemes were officially announced on this but the idea is to increase the amount of individuals using public transport, particularly cycling and walking through various initiatives.
Lastly, there was a pledge to make London “the global centre of green finance". This one is arguably more complex to measure and monitor, but essentially it requires that financial planning and investment decisions include environmental, social and governance considerations.
Ultimately whilst some senior figures have claimed the that the 10 point plan was deeply disappointing, there are some very welcome initiatives and it is obvious that the need to tackle the environmental emergency is creeping up the agenda. Although there was no direct mention of using waste as a resource, the value of RDF (refuse derived fuel) should not be ignored. Nor too, should reducing the amount of waste we produce. Fortunately, those within the industry are seeing a far more recycling activity from businesses and the public. We all want to do the right thing for the planet and as a business we continue to be a supportive organisation, helping advise businesses and help them maximise their recycling rates, whilst providing a reliable local service to keep transportation, and therefore carbon footprints, to a minimum.