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The laws and bans helping to protect the planet

The effects of climate change are evident by simply looking at news headlines. From severe droughts and flash floods to devastating hurricanes and melting glaciers, change is becoming 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.  There is still a long way to go before we truly combat climate change, but progress is being made.

Here, are some of today’s most influential environmental laws and how the public must comply with them to help save the planet.

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; the equivalent of a truck load every minute.

This has led to several countries introducing bans or taxes to try and limit the exponential rise in plastic usage.  Since October 2015, customers in England have had to pay at least 5p for each single-use bag – with all retailers employing more than 250 people made to take part in the scheme. The plastic bag fee in England could rise to 10p – with all shops having to charge, regardless of how big they are.

More recently, an announcement was made on the ban of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers – this could be in place in the UK by late 2019.

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.

Clean Air Strategy

In May 2018, the Clean Air Strategy was produced by the UK’s government.  Its aim is to cut air pollution and human exposure to particulate matter pollution — the fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity, and heart disease.

The goal is to halve the number of people who live in areas where concentrations of particulate matter are above guideline limits by 2025. 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.

Road to Zero Strategy

The Road to Zero Strategy is another way members of the public can help combat climate change via their car 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 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, including a major focus on improving and increasing the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs).

Article written by : Flogas

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Flogas directly.

Published on 4th April 2019
(Last updated 7th May 2021)