As party conference season ends, Conservative plans for achieving their net-zero pledge to end carbon emissions by 2050 have been roundly criticised. They include a promise of a plant to deliver zero-carbon energy from nuclear fusion by 2040 – even though most experts believe achieving the dream is still 30 years away, as well as measures to boost the uptake of electric cars, to plant one million more trees and to improve home energy efficiency.

But there is no mention of hugely controversial recommendations from the government’s own advisers to achieve net zero, such as an earlier ban on petrol and diesel cars, an end to gas boilers, huge investment in green energy, or sharp curbs to meat-eating.

The Labour party pledged to hit net-zero emissions by 2030 as part of a Green New Deal. it includes a complete ban on fracking, a programme of ecological restoration to increase biodiversity and natural carbon sequestration and, of course, public ownership of the water industry. Labour’s shadow minister also urged water companies to help cut per capita consumption to 100 litres a day (reported in Utility Week).

The Lib Dems also set out a radical agenda, including citizens’ assemblies to decide what action should be taken on the climate crisis, a revived Green Investment Bank, bringing back a department of climate change, new powers for local government to cut emissions, a moratorium on airport expansion and an end to fracking.

Meanwhile, whilst Boris wants to “water down” environmental standards, the EU moves on.

Are we seeing the chipping away of environmental protection and dirty man of Europe again?

The newsletter of the (Secretariat of the) European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety notes that ENVI Members are interested in the extensions of approval periods for active substances, notably flumioxazin, and chlorotoluron envisaged by the Commission. Active substances are pesticides components that target plant diseases. According to the draft objections to be discussed and put to vote in the ENVI Committee, flumioxazin and chlorotoluron are probable endocrine disruptors, having negative effects on reproduction.

Members have also voted to enter into interinstitutional negotiations with the Council, on the revision of the legislation on drinking water, to align drinking water quality standards with the most up-to-date scientific data, and on a new piece of legislation setting the requirements for the quality of reused water (i.e. treated waste water which results from further treatment in a reclamation facility). The European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water, which received the support of almost 1.9 million citizens, called for measures that enshrine the right to water and sanitation. In line with the citizens’ demands, MEPs want to ensure that in its role, the European Parliament promotes universal access to clean water for all.

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