The assertion of support for the Paris Agreement was welcome, the paucity of the government's wider green programme was anything but
First, the good news. The Queen's unequivocal assertion that her government "will continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement" is hugely welcome. Following an election campaign where Theresa May was, rightly or wrongly, perceived to take too weak a line in defence of the agreement following Donald Trump's logic-free assault on the internal accord it was useful to see an unwavering commitment reasserted.
It may have come right at the end of the speech, but all the UK's long term economic and infrastructure decisions are informed by this central pledge.
We have to deliver deep emissions reductions in the coming decades and build a full net zero emission economy within many of our lifetimes. That remains the core environmental policy adopted by our government and all the main opposition parties, even if it does not necessarily extend to the one opposition party that matters most right now: the DUP.
There was further good news too for the electric vehicle industry with the promise of legislation to further boost its development. With the Conservative manifesto also promising £700m of funding and research into batteries and autonomous driving a priority for the government, the pledge to ensure the UK remains a world-leader in electric vehicles looks credible.
The problem is that while there is now a commitment to provide the foundations for this one pillar of UK decarbonisation, the Queen's Speech did nothing to firm up the shifting sands below the many other pillars.
The failure to make any mention of the long-awaited Clean Growth Plan and 25 Year Plan for Nature is a cause for considerable concern. Both are said to be well advanced, and yet on these crucial topics the Queen stayed shtoom.
The need to provide clarity on how the UK intends to deliver deep emissions reductions from heat, industry, agriculture, aviation, and shipping grows more urgent by the day, as does the critical requirement for information on how the government plans to build on really encouraging recent progress in the clean power space.
Business is making encouraging moves on all these fronts, but an ambitious policy framework could turbo charge these trends and ensure the UK really does emerge as a world leader in clean technologies.
And yet, the government is still struggling to finalise its position, just as it cannot provide any clear indication as to whether or not its promised energy price cap will ever appear.
It would be easy to blame Theresa May's gossamer light grip on power for this uncertainty. But the bigger underlying reason is obvious and completely dominated the Queen's Speech: Brexit.
There may be good things that come of Brexit, but right now it is pummelling a government already on the ropes.
To take just a few examples highlighted by the Queen, the UK is going to establish a new national policy on nuclear safeguards. That doesn't even sound simple, and it is much more complicated than it sounds.
The government wants to leave Euratom, against the advice of virtually everyone who knows anything about the nuclear industry and atomic safety. We face the prospect of developing an entirely new regulator and a new policy framework for a sector that helps treat cancer patients and provides a fifth of our power. It will need to be staffed with highly skilled professionals and will need to maintain the very highest levels of safety, because of, you know, the unpleasantness associated with nuclear risks. It will also not have escaped your attention that hiring atomic scientists is not the easiest HR task in the world. You would be extremely hard pressed to find anyone in Whitehall who thinks this is a good idea.
Similarly, the Queen confirmed new national policies for agriculture and fisheries. Here, there is more grounds for optimism. The Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy are both flawed from an environmental perspective. The opportunity is there to come up with a better and more sustainable policy framework.
But, firstly, any new policy will take years to develop and be subject to ferocious lobbying from those who want policies focused on nothing but short term gains.
And secondly, it will be all but impossible to finalise anything until a deal is reached with the EU. Just as the UK would (hopefully) object to a trade deal that allows the import of chlorinated chicken or hormone injected beef from the US, the EU will surely make close adherence to EU agricultural standards and policies a red line in any trade deal. Equally, the EU will still have to be a major consideration in any new UK fisheries policy on the not unreasonable grounds that fish tend to swim around.
Reports today suggest 750 policy experts from across Whitehall are being transferred to start work on some of these issues. Make that 7,500 of the best minds of their generation and it would still be a daunting task.
We may yet honour the Queen's words to 'make a success of Brexit', but the biggest tragedy of our leaving of the EU remains all the other things we could have been getting on with instead.
This Queen's Speech provided the ghost of a skeleton of what might have been. A genuinely modern industrial strategy underpinned not just by an electric vehicle and smart meter bill, as welcome as they may be, but also by a Net Zero Emission Bill, a Circular Economy Bill, a Natural Capital Bill, a Clean Air Bill, an Energy Storage and Smart Grid Bill, a Hydrogen and Green Heat Bill.
Legislation isn't everything, and investment will continue to flow in all these areas - often helped by the government, as was the case yesterday with the announcement of £35m of green heat funding. But real, sweeping legislative ambition and policy clarity would help unlock investment at the scale that is so urgently required.
It would also help ensure the Queen's commitment to the Paris Agreement was properly honoured by her government. Instead, we await two years when the complexity unleashed by Brexit metastatises in front of our eyes, steadily eroding the government's ability to meet the real challenges our economy and our planet faces.
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