Crossed Wires

The sheer number of new wind farms now planned in the UK means that there is increasing local concern over the number of new ‘grid connections’ required to connect offshore wind farms to the onshore electricity network. Without more coordination between projects, the impact of this new infrastructure on local communities and the environment risks similar local backlash to onshore wind farms and fracking.

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Beyond COP26: The UK’s Green USPs

This report launches Policy Exchange’s new programme, Beyond COP26, in the run up to the COP26 climate conference that the UK will host in Glasgow later this year. The programme is co-chaired by two former Energy Secretaries, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP and Rt Hon Amber Rudd.

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Is Net Zero a “dangerous trap”?

Voices in the environment sector have long fired criticisms at Net Zero, the Government’s target for eradicating emissions by the middle of this century. Last year, Greta Thunberg argued that the world should ‘forget’ Net Zero, and an article recently posted by The Conversation argued it is a “dangerous trap”. However, the opposite is true; Net Zero is a practical and a political victory for the decarbonisation agenda, not a dangerous trap worth forgetting.

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Good moves in the Government’s Trees Action Plan

The Government’s tree strategy for England arrived this week, setting out a range of welcome measures designed to meet its manifesto promise of 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by the end of the Parliament. That’s about three times the current rate and it’s a tall order. Compared to places like France and Germany, which have tree cover upwards of 30%, the UK has a paltry 13%.

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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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Latest Environment & Energy Publications

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

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.

No, more wind power doesn’t mean the lights will go out

No, more wind power doesn’t mean the lights will go out

“We believe that in 10 years’ time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country.” This was the Prime Minister’s positive vision for a low-carbon UK that he set out in his Conference speech last week. Rather predictably, this has led to questions about what happens when the wind stops blowing. Not all of this criticism will be in good faith, but there is also a serious point.

Latest Environment & Energy News

The electric economy: achieving our low carbon energy future

The electric economy: achieving our low carbon energy future

Policy Exchange hosted top experts from industry and Parliament for a debate on the future of Britain’s electricity system and the potential role of small modular nuclear reactors in meeting our energy needs. Rachel Reeves MP (Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee) introduced our distinguished panel of speakers including Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford (former Secretary of State for Energy), Harry Holt (President of Rolls-Royce Nuclear) and Dr Jenifer Baxter (Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers). Lord Howell’s comments on the opportunities Brexit presents for nuclear research were covered by the Telegraph.

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