We’re never far away from a climate change headline. Droughts, flash floods, hurricanes and melting glaciers – it appears that change is becoming ever more prevalent across the globe. However, it’s not just global warming that poses a threat to our planet. Issues including how we use plastic and overuse natural resources are heavily impacting our environment too.
The good news is that public awareness on the issues is growing. Environmental charities, broadcast programmes, influential celebrities and a collection of the media are all making a huge impact too by educating the masses and inspiring action on a global scale.
Of course, there is still a long way to go before we truly combat climate change, but progress is being made. Global leaders are increasing their efforts to make sure changes are being carried out.
In this article, Flogas, an off grid gas supplier, look at some of today’s most influential environmental laws and how the public must comply with them to help save the planet.
Clean Air Strategy
In May 2018, the Clean Air Strategy was produced by the UK’s government. Its aim was to cut air pollution and human exposure to particulate matter pollution — the fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity, and heart disease. The new strategy is part of a 25-year plan to leave the environment in a better state and is an addition to the £3.5 billion scheme already in place to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles, set out in July last year.
The end goal is to have halved the number of people who live in areas where concentrations of particulate matter are above guideline limits by 2025. What’s more, it pledges to ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels are available, to tackle ammonia from farming, to address non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles, to empower local government with new primary legislation, to invest in scientific research and innovation in clean technology, and much more.
Electric cars are set to play a huge role in this clean air strategy, so why not think about purchasing one next time you renew your vehicle?
The war on plastic
While it has a host of positive uses, plastic is still a major pollutant. Each year approximately 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans. This is the equivalent of a truck load every minute. It’s led to several countries introducing bans or taxes to try and limit the exponential rise in plastic usage. Denmark started levying a charge on plastics bags as early as 1993, and the 2002 ‘bag tax’ in Ireland resulted in a huge 90% drop in demand for single-use plastic bags. More recently, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers could be in place in the UK by late 2019. Looking ahead, the European Union has voiced its intention to ban a range of plastic items (including straws, plates, and single-use cutlery) completely by 2021, justifying that these can be replaced with more sustainable materials.
Members of the public can help to eradicate the issue by using bags for life, ditching plastic straws, and recycling any plastic packaging correctly.
Road to Zero Strategy
As well as the clean air strategy, the Road to Zero Strategy is another way members of the public can help combat climate change via their automobile choice. Transportation accounts for a higher overall share of greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of the economy, so changes are vital if the UK is to hit its carbon reduction targets. The Department for Transport’s 2018 ‘Road to Zero Strategy,’ sets out that at least 50% (and as many as 70%) of new car sales will be ultra-low emission by 2030, and up to 40% for new vans. This policy also addresses reducing emissions from vehicles already on the roads and plans to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
Moving towards zero emission cars will mean that there’s a need for expansion of the country’s green infrastructure. This will mean there’s a need for a major focus on improving and increasing the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). The Road to Zero strategy sets the stage for what the government has hailed ‘the biggest technology advancement to hit UK roads since the invention of the combustion engine.’
Sources: Guardian, BBC, The Sun, Greenpeace, Reusethisbag, DEFRA, Climate Action, Poweringpastcoalalliance, Gov.uk