The United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a series of new legally binding environmental targets to protect the ecosystem, protect air quality, clean up rivers, and reduce pollution and waste, as reported by Reuters on December 16. The UK government announced 13 new targets on December 16, including goals to bring the decline in biodiversity to a halt by 2023, increase tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of total land area by 2050, and reduce waste produced by humans by half by 2042. The UK government will elaborate on the details of how to achieve these targets in its Environmental Improvement Plan in January 2023.
By setting legally binding environmental targets, the UK hopes to achieve its commitment to protecting 30% of its land and ocean by 2030 and halting deforestation and land degradation by 2030. Despite the announcement of these ambitious targets, the UK government was criticized for failing to meet the October 31 deadline for setting the environmental targets, which raised questions about the UK’s commitment to environmental goals. In addition, after the goals were published after a six-week delay, critics remarked that the crucial targets to protect air and water quality are missing from the government’s statement, and the goals do not sufficiently address the serious environmental issues the UK is facing.