This year will see some significant events taking place in the UK that will help shape the key environmental challenge of climate change.
In November, Glasgow will host the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) - COP being 'Conference of the Parties', the decision making body for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The conference will bring together world leaders from politics, business, finance and climate experts to discuss the actions required to move the global economy towards net zero emissions. The UK government has restated its commitment to finding the solutions to address the challenges of climate change.
Whilst COP26 may dominate headlines this year, there are other planned environmental initiatives that potentially could impact the minerals industry.
The UK government will be finalising its Environment Bill which is intended to come into law in 2022. This is far-reaching legislation to help us address climate and environmental targets as well as setting out a framework to support more sustainable development in the future. It covers areas such as clean air strategy, recycling and waste management, biodiversity net gain and environmental governance.
The minerals industry is a key sector in helping to realise these targets. Innovation is already driving more energy efficient production processes combined with new product development to find construction materials that use less intensive resources. Both of these activities directly support the green infrastructure programme which will play a central part in the post-Covid economic recovery.
What may surprise many is that whilst the targets may be new, the reality is the minerals industry has been proactively managing its environmental credentials for decades. In line with many other industries, the sector has understood and respected its relationship with the natural environment and sought to minimise its impact. The Mineral Product's Association (MPA) National Nature Park charts the number of wildlife habitats that have been created at the end of a quarry's operational life and is a clear indication of the positive contribution the industry makes to biodiversity.
IQ exists to support the industry and its members through a range of activities. One key resource was the Environmental Management textbook, used as part of the learning materials on the University of Derby Centre for Minerals Products courses, and covered a range of topics from environmental management systems, to air quality and noise.
It was well-received when it was originally produced as each chapter was written by known experts in their field. During 2021 the book will be revised to reflect the changes that the industry will need to adapt to and ensure the information is accessible for members. As previous, the content will be developed by those within the sector with current experience and knowledge of the key issues.
The environment and sustainability agenda will undoubtedly grow in the coming years and it will drive innovation and change for all parts of society including our sector. We will continue to engage with the agenda and sure the Institute supports members in delivering the best outcomes.