LexisPSL Environment News Podcast – COP 26 November 2021

LexisPSL Environment News Podcast – COP 26 November 2021

Welcome back to the LexisPSL Environment News podcast. As COP26 takes place in Glasgow, Chris Badger and Mark Davies of 6 Pump Court discuss some of the key developments at the Conference so far, together with an overview of more local issues, including:

  • The Silverdale Quarry Case; and
  • climate issues for local councils.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

COP 26 – listen from 0.31 mins

In the first part of the podcast, Chris and Mark look at recent progress at COP26 in Glasgow, outlining the 4 major goals of the Conference, in particular the aim to work together to deliver outcomes. This includes setting common timetables and agreeing common mechanisms for addressing loss and damage from climate change. Is Greta Thunberg justified in her condemnation of the conference? Have targets and promises already been missed and broken?  The UN, US and UK have already conceded that COP 26 will not achieve everything hoped for but is its success open to interpretation?  Although 2025 may prove to be too late for the next deadline, it seems that annual reviews of targets have not been included in the final decision for COP26.  Discussions at COP26 continue, and major issues including climate finance and the prospect of a carbon trading system have yet to be discussed and negotiated.

Richards, R (On the Application Of) v The Environment Agency – listen from 4.59 mins

In the second part of the podcast, Chris and Mark discuss the case of Richards, R (On the Application Of) v The Environment Agency, [2021] EXHC 2501 (Admin) concerning a premature baby that was left with breathing difficulties that threatened to shorten its life.  It was alleged the EA had failed to take sufficient regulatory steps to control levels of hydrogen sulphide that were prevalent in the community following an increase in the permitting limit of a local landfill site.  It was further contended that the EA was failing in its obligations to discharge its statutory duties under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Critically, no individual officer had formulated a plan to deal with the pollution and therefore no one had taken overall responsibility in the exercise of judgment. For the first time, it seems to be argued that the EA has an operational duty as part of the UK’s framework duty to ensure that Articles 2 and 8 of the ECHR are met. This operational duty will be assessed according to whether the obligation is historic or ongoing.  Chris and Mark discuss possible ramifications for regulators going forward in the light of this emphasis on human rights obligations and the ‘duty of sufficient enquiry’ in the context of regulatory decision-making.

Local council climate issues– listen from 8.54 mins

In the final part of the podcast, we hear about more local issues. Did you know that existing planning approvals in the aviation sector already exceed the expected efficiency gains in aviation by 2050?  Will other sectors therefore have to shoulder more of the collective burden, if government legal obligations are to be met? At local council level the plethora of climate emergency resolutions is expected to be insufficient to meet statutory targets, and so should climate policy be built into the planning process?  Chris and Mark discuss how these issues can be addressed going forward with the use of circular economy statements and whether future homes will have to be built to a zero carbon standard? 

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About the author:
Andrea is a Professional Support Lawyer at LexisNexis, specialising in environmental law. She has a background in contaminated land and environmental insurance, and a Masters degree in waste management. She qualified in 1997 at Browne Jacobson and later worked in the Environment and Planning team at SJ Berwin, before moving in house to work as Senior Solicitor at Certa (UK) Ltd. More recently Andrea has worked as a legal consultant, completing projects for blue chip companies. Andrea is an active member of the UK Environmental Law Association.