Environmental Law News Update

June 26, 2017

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Christopher Badger and Laura Phillips consider the Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group paper on environmental law, the publication of revised voluntary guidelines for issuing Green Bonds, and pledges by the Mayor of London for a ‘zero-emission’ city by 2050.


Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group publishes paper on Environmental Law

The Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group has published a new paper on Environmental Law. Written by leading environmental law experts, the paper makes key recommendations to the Government in light of Brexit. In particular, that the Government should:

  • “Commit to long-term stability of environmental policy through creation of enforceable domestic commitments and an independent domestic enforcement mechanism, underpinned by the judiciary, to replace the effective system of independent supervision and enforcement at EU level that will no longer apply after Brexit;
  • Maintain environmental standards and consistency of environmental policy and legislation by ensuring consistency with EU environmental standards, unless objective scientific reasons exist to depart from such standards, and recognising the need to avoid negative impacts on environmental protection in future trade agreements, and
  • Agree to re-create in new treaty provisions the cross-border environmental obligations currently linking the UK and the EU27.

These recommendations come at a time when the current Government’s approach to environmental protection has become less clear, despite its Manifesto commitment to ensure “protections given to… the environment by EU law will continue to be available in UK law at the point at which we leave the EU” (see earlier Environmental Law News Update). The new Environment Secretary has already placed the Habitats Directive squarely within his sights (see last week’s Environmental Law News Update). There was very little mention of the environment in the Queen’s Speech; a passing reference to supporting international action against Climate Change, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and a plan to introduce a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill intended to promote the use of electric cars and mandate charging points at motorway services and fuel stations.

You can read the full paper here


Green Bond Principles develop

The International Capital Market Association (“ICMA”) has published revised voluntary guidelines for issuing Green Bonds. The ‘Green Bond Principles’ are intended to promote integrity in the Green Bond market through guidelines that recommend transparency, disclosure and reporting, for use by market participants and to drive the provision of information which will in turn inform investment.

Changes introduced in the 2017 update include:

  • Detail on objectives of the Green Bond Principles and its role in promoting the Green Bond market;
  • Stronger guidance on issuer communication of environmental strategy and management of material environmental and social risk factors;
  • Release of new Social Bond Principles in support of bonds that raise funds for projects with positive social outcomes;
  • New Sustainability Bond Guidelines published to provide guidance for bonds combining green and social projects.

The green bond market aims to enable and develop the role that debt markets can play in projects that contribute to environmental sustainability. During the last year, issuance in the green bond market has approximately doubled to $80 billion. Interestingly, China is one of the main drivers of this growth, becoming the largest source of issuance in 2016.

The latest update and relevant information can be found here.


Mayor of London pledges ‘zero-emission’ city by 2050

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has published his draft transport strategy and it is open for consultation until 2 October. He has pledged to create zero-emission zones in central London by 2025, with the whole of the capital following suit by 2050 (further detail here).

This follows a week of heatwaves where Mr Khan triggered London’s emergency air quality alert system (see news article here).

The transport and air quality strategies are becoming better integrated. Mr Khan’s plans for cleaning up London’s air can be found here.

The Mayor has also requested an urgent meeting with the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove to urgently discuss air quality (see news article here).


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