Environmental Affairs – The Geopolitics of Climate Change

Environmental Affairs is Policy Exchange’s quarterly journal, which explores the implications of the growing role of environmental policy. As environmental questions are increasingly felt in other areas, from economics, to security, to foreign affairs, we look at what these overlaps will mean. Our contributors are world leaders, distinguished thinkers and experts in their fields, drawn from the UK and around the world.

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Capital Shift

In 2021, the UK will host the G7 and COP26 and take a key part in other major summits, giving it a unique opportunity to lead the global diplomatic agenda. This report argues that he UK should use its position to drive a programme of green finance reforms that will enable a fundamental shift to a sustainable global economy.

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Charging Up

The Energy & Environment Unit at Policy Exchange launched a paper warning that the installation of electric vehicle chargepoints would have to be five times faster during the 2020s to make the petrol and diesel vehicle ban workable. The report was authored by Ed Birkett, Senior Fellow and William Nicolle, Research Fellow at Policy Exchange. The release coincided with the Government’s announcement of £20m additional funding for EV charging infrastructure. Read coverage of the report in The Telegraph, Sky News, Bloomberg and BBC News. Read the report here.

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Charging Up

The UK’s commitment to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 was at the heart of the Prime Minister’s recent ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.  This commitment reflects both sharp reductions in the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) and the urgent need to clean up the transport sector, which is now the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Powering Net Zero

The UK Government’s commitment to quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030 will transform Great Britain’s electricity system. However, it poses serious challenges for the electricity market. Market conditions during the summer lockdown showed that the Government needs to make reforms, otherwise costs will rise and customers won’t benefit from the falling cost of wind and solar.

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The Future of the North Sea

The North Sea is strategically central to meeting the UK’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050. By fully developing offshore wind, the North Sea could provide one-third of the UK’s energy needs, and this proportion will grow if low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) are also fully developed.

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Latest Environment & Energy Publications

Route ‘35

Route ‘35

Transport is now the UK’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases. While other sectors slash their emissions, cars continue to produce 15% of our annual emissions, and the figure is still rising.

To solve this, the Government plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Here Policy Exchange sets out how this can be achieved, following best international practice.

Outbreaks and Spillovers

Outbreaks and Spillovers

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Zoonotic pathogens (those that originate in animals) are a growing risk to human populations. There were three times as many outbreaks in the 1990s as in the 1940s, and cases continue to rise. The majority of new infectious diseases originate in animals, including well-known diseases such as SARS, avian flu, Ebola and HIV. Whilst too early to say for sure, it is likely that SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) originated in bats. Here Policy Exchange examines what is to be done to reduce the threat to human health and the global economy.

Bigger, Better Forests

Bigger, Better Forests

Increasing tree cover in the UK is a matter of land use policy.
This simple fact is often forgotten amid a rush to re-forest Britain through multiple schemes and interventions. This seemingly overlooks the fact that silviculture – the art and science of growing trees – is just one subset of land management.
In the last 25 years, several government-backed new forests have been established or proposed, from the mid-1990s National Forest to the most recent ‘Northern Forest’, which is to stretch across the North East and North West of England. Though laudable and important (we propose a project of our own in this report), these schemes alone are not sufficient to address more fundamental barriers to tree planting, many of which are the direct results of public subsidies for a particular model of farming.

Latest Environment & Energy Blogs

Policy Exchange and the PM’s 10-Point Plan

Policy Exchange and the PM’s 10-Point Plan

The Prime Minister’s green announcement reflects several policies that we’ve championed over more than a decade.

After some key personnel changes at the top, the Prime Minister has begun his administration’s ‘reset’ with a long-awaited 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Plan has been broadly praised for its breadth and welcomed as a major statement of intent across multiple technologies. He combined knotty, unglamorous issues such as home heating with big, visionary technologies like CCS and hydrogen.

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

The Prime Minister’s commitment to 40 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030 is a huge undertaking that will galvanise industry to redouble their efforts to deploy clean energy projects. However, despite the scale of the ambition and the falling cost of offshore wind, the UK could also be getting more from a range of energy technologies by helping them to work together. ‘Hybrid’ clean energy projects, such as solar farms working with batteries, have the potential to significantly reduce costs by sharing components, particularly expensive grid connections. Other combinations include wind with hydrogen production or wind with interconnectors.

UK Energy and Environment Policy Timeline

UK Energy and Environment Policy Timeline

The next 12 months are hugely important for the UK’s energy and environment policy, with the Government preparing to host the COP26 climate conference in in Glasgow in November 2021 and committing to ‘Build Back Better’ from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Policy Exchange is tracking around 30 milestones for UK energy and environment policies, which we have collated in the timeline below. We plan to update and maintain this timeline with the latest Government announcements, White Papers and consultation documents.

Latest Environment & Energy News

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