• What Does 2017 Have in Store for the Environment?

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What Does 2017 Have in Store for the Environment?

Jan 18 2017

With the start of a new year comes the potential for a whole host of developments and possibilities. Who would have guessed that the UK would have voted to leave the EU or that Donald Trump would have been voted President of the United States in 2016?

Both of those events have major implications for the upcoming 12 months, with regard to the environment in particular. Here’s a quick rundown of what we can expect 2017 to bring for our planet, both at home and abroad

The UK

  • Air pollution. Having been successfully sued twice by environmental law firm ClientEarth, the government has been ordered to come up with a new Air Quality Plan this year. That will undoubtedly see the implementation of new ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZs) across the UK, as well as increased funding in public transportation and cycling lanes. There will also be pressure for the government to follow the example set by Paris, Madrid and Mexico City in pledging to ban diesel cars from the city limits by 2025.
  • Fracking. Despite widespread opposition and extensive campaigning against the practice, the Conservative government is adamant it will go ahead with its plans to extract shale oil and gas from beneath the Earth’s surface via hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, and drilling should start in Lancashire and Yorkshire this year. With only 17% of the nation in support of fracking, further protests will inevitably take place across the country.
  • Brexit. By leaving the EU, the UK risks losing all of the important European legislation which safeguards our flora and fauna. Much work is necessary to ensure that British wildlife is properly protected when Article 50 is finally triggered or the environmental decline that has plagued Britain over the last decade or so could worsen. What’s more, Brexit also threatens farming subsidies from Europe, putting the British agricultural industry in jeopardy.

The rest of the world

  • Donald Trump. Perhaps the biggest news from last year was the shocking announcement that Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. An affirmed climate change sceptic, Trump has already put doubters in key environmental positions throughout his cabinet and has threatened to abandon the COP21 climate agreement made in Paris last year. Doing so would make it very hard for the rest of the world to meet the target of avoiding a global temperature hike of more than 1.5°C and would sour relations with countless nations around the globe.
  • Endangered animals. A whole host of endangered species, including the giant otter, Darwin’s fox, the Bornean orangutan, the Amur leopard, the South China tiger and the black-footed ferret, are teetering on the brink of extinction and could be tipped over in 2017. Meanwhile, further attempts to safeguard the future of the Eurasian Lynx could be brought to the British Isles as it is introduced to rural parts of southern Scotland and Northumberland.
  • Marine environmentalism. The inaugural UN Ocean Conference is earmarked for June 2017 and will see much discussion on how best to approach the increasing problem of plastic saturation in oceanic waters. It’s also expected to investigate how to combat overfishing and the effects of climate change and other weather phenomenon, including a predicted La Niña storm which will result in the cooling of Pacific waters.

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