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CMA Guidelines to Meet the UK's Environmental Goals
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CMA Guidelines to Meet the UK's Environmental Goals

What are the CMA’s guidelines to help the U.K. achieve their environmental goals?
Business
2023-08-08T00:00:00.000Z
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In 2021, the Government of the United Kingdom enacted the Environment Act of 2021 into law and published its Ten Point Plan in an effort to mitigate climate change and reduce the country's overall environmental impact. But the U.K. Government isn't the only one determined for those goals to be achieved – CMA guidelines have been published in order to ensure that the U.K.'s environmental goals are met.

👉 What exactly is the CMA guidance, and how will this help the United Kingdom achieve their environmental goals?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

What is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)?

The CMA, otherwise known as the Competition and Markets Authority – serves as the United Kingdom's primary authority designated to regulate competition amongst the market and protect consumers.

The Competition and Markets Authority encourages healthy, productive competition and market regulation by complaint handling, overseeing various cases, making decisions on those cases, initiating fines, and supporting other various market regulators. 

Its main goal is to make sure that markets function peacefully and productively. It accomplishes this by providing opinions on potential laws (eg. consumer law and UK competition law) and regulations, ensuring the rights of the consumer, monitoring the internal market of the U.K., and controlling subsidies.

The list of the CMA's duties has grown since Brexit, increasing the need for further regulations. 

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How does the CMA work?

For example, based on either complaints from external sources or market intelligence, the CMA has the power to investigate and collect evidence of activities that may breach UK competition law.

Specific examples include preventing a company from dominating the market via anti-competitive mergers, shutting down competition that prevents the overall success of another party, and taking a business to court where it fails to follow regulations. If found guilty for failing to comply with the measures, the CMA can take action by imposing legally binding remedies, fines for non-compliance or even the disqualification of company directors.

Note that if the CMA want's to take action it must first bring the company to court ⚠️

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Following Brexit, the UK has kept some of the E.U. regulations aimed at protect consumers, examples include fair advertising and the right to breach contracts with unfair clauses. Although the CMA must always involve the court system when taking action against companies, it still attempts to solve issues calmly and with the use of compromise. 

Before we take a closer look at how the recommendations provided by the CMA help the U.K. to meet their environmental goals, let's first explore some of the new targets the United Kingdom has set to reduce their emissions and overall environmental impact

How does the United Kingdom handle the climate revolution?

What are the U.K.'s Environmental Goals?

The U.K. has recently taken great strides in their efforts towards environmental change and has focused in on reducing their carbon emissions. Many of the UK's environmental goals can be found in both their Ten Point Plan and the U.K. Environment Act of 2021 which now forms part of UK law.

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The Ten Point Plan

The Ten Point Plan is a £12 billion strategy implemented by Boris Johnson, the previous Prime Minister of the U.K. It is aimed at establishing the measures necessary to help the United Kingdom achieve their net-zero emission targets by 2050 and propel the United Kingdom towards a Green Industrial Revolution by encouraging the use of clean energy, creating new transportation regulations to reduce excessive carbon emissions, and building more energy efficient homes.

The ultimate goal of the Ten Point Plan is to implement sustainability throughout the U.K. while also creating new jobs to heal the country's economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.

👉 The Ten Point Plan strives to improve the viability of offshore wind projects, the use of nuclear energy, transition to emission-free transportation, commit to sustainable infrastructure, install more carbon capture and storage systems, and use green financing to achieve their goals. 

The 2021 Environment Act

The U.K. Environment Act of 2021, on the other hand, is dedicated towards improving awareness and implementing better policies and regulations to protect the environment by closing the gap between the central and local governments. The U.K. Environment Act aims to improve air quality, reduce water waste, protect biodiversity, and encourage recycling to mitigate overall waste. 

👉 Both plans depict the United Kingdom's dedication towards protecting the environment, but ultimately  – the U.K. Environment Act of 2021 isn't as concerned with generating a green revolution or repairing the economy in the way the Ten Point Plan is. 

Clearly, the United Kingdom has expressed their incentive to achieve a plethora of environmental goals, but how are they going to achieve them all? 

What is the problem with the U.K.'s environmental goals?

Both the Ten Point Plan and the U.K. Environment Act of 2021 require the UK to meet a number environmental goals – and achieving these goals is contingent on both governmental action and citizen compliance.

However, both of these plans lack monitoring mechanisms and don't lay out the steps for how these goals will be achieved.

One component of the Ten Point Plan is to improve sustainable infrastructure throughout the U.K., and while £1 billion has been allocated to improving the energy efficiency of homes, there are no steps illustrating how the Ten Point Plan will specifically address all of the other issues that need to be resolved in order to improve sustainability within residences and office buildings across the United Kingdom. 

The U.K. has a lot of ideas, and the most essential resource of all to make them happen – money. However, both the U.K. Environment Act of 2021 and the Ten Point Plan show that the United Kingdom doesn't have a thoroughly thought-out plan on how to invest in green financing, protect biodiversity, or implement sustainable infrastructure. 

👉 This is where the CMA comes into play - it's hoped that it will support the United Kingdom as is strives to meet their new environmental targets.

How does the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggest the U.K. proceed with the 'CMA guidelines'?

The CMA recently published a series of recommendations on how both competition law and consumer protection law can actually support the United Kingdom to achieve their environmental obligations.

The guidance provides the U.K. Government with what both their Ten Point Plan and Environment Act of 2021 are lacking – i.e. specific, small steps that build a pathway to achieving their ultimate goals. 👍

So what exactly does the guidance recommend?

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Clarification of environmental law

The CMA guidance recommended clarifying the law on environmental information provision – by providing definitions for terms that the average UK citizen wouldn't otherwise know, like the difference between ‘carbon neutral' and ‘net-zero emissions'.

👉 Clarifying these terms can help when consumers make purchasing decisions and empower them to choose the most environmentally friendly product.

This guidance will also aid in the CMA's contribution to the Green Claims Code – which is an effort to prevent businesses from employing greenwashing practices by ensuring that their products are advertised honestly. 

A perfect illustration of how this will ultimately benefit the U.K.'s environmental goals, is how improved labelling of items can help British citizens to recycle better.

Plastic is difficult to sort and often gets tossed into the wrong bins due to insufficient labelling and guidance. But if the recommendations can encourage businesses to follow the Green Claims Code, the UK will be much more successful in mitigating waste and making recycling less confusing. 

Emission-free transportation

The Competition and Markets Authority is also determined to aid in the transition to emission-free transportation by investigating the reasoning behind the lack of electric car charging stations on motorways across the country. This will help the U.K. to achieve their goal of moving towards carbon-free transportation.

Sustainability taskforce

The recommendations also strive to encourage the United Kingdom's transition towards a low-carbon economy, and this will be done through the use of their Sustainability Taskforce. 

👉 The Sustainability Taskforce will connect colleagues throughout the CMA and help curate a greater sense of knowledge on how to develop regulations and guidance in accordance with the environmental goals of the United Kingdom. It will implement verified guidance, with approval and insight from sources like the U.K. government itself, industries bodies, and potential partner organisations.

Working together

The CMA guidance also highlighted the importance of working together to reduce waste or improve biodiversity. The fight against climate change is a collective effort, and the Competition and Markets Authority clearly expresses this in their new guidance, where it stated that the U.K.'s Environmental goals will not be met unless everyone does their part.

👉 For example even if the U.K. is successful in achieving zero-emission air travel as expressed in the Ten Point Plan, the problem of excessive waste and carbon emissions from other sources will still be present throughout the country. 

The Competition and Markets Authority wants to make it easier not only for businesses, but also consumers to play their part in the fight against climate change.

One way to do this is to provide guidance, to help shoppers choose the products that will do the least environmental harm. As we already mentioned, by improving the recycling labels on plastic water bottles , or clearly stating the energy efficiency of a certain household appliance, such as a dishwasher or washer-dryer, this will help shoppers pick the most sustainable option, thereby reducing their environmental impact and in turn, helping the U.K. to reach their environmental goals. 

Additionally, the Sustainability Taskforce will not only help to regulate the U.K. economy, but also to ensure that the general public play their part in reducing their carbon footprint and implementing sustainability.

Despite the fact that those with governmental influence have more power to establish these regulations, it is ultimately the people of any country that make or break the progress in any environmental goal.

The Competition Markets Authority recommendations strive to make the obligations outlined in the Ten Point Plan and the U.K. Environment Act of 2021 more achievable for the average citizen.

Is the CMA guidance likely to help the U.K. meet their environmental goals?

Ultimately, the Competition and Markets Authority's guidance and efforts are meant to encourage better consumer choices to help prevent greenwashing, improve the likelihood of green financing, and transition towards a country that demonstrates carbon-free transportation as a reality.

The advice can certainly help the U.K. to reach their immediate environmental targets, but it's not going to make a massive difference to the future progress of those goals. At the end of the day, the biggest roadblock for the U.K. in meet their environmental targets is the lack of monitoring and tracking in the progress of those goals.

Legislative action like the U.K. Environmental Act puts too much pressure on the consumer to make the right choices regarding sustainability without sufficient information. 

If the United Kingdom wants to achieve their environmental goals, they should adopt the guidance of the Competition and Markets Authority. Businesses have to help buyers move towards sustainability, proving once again that any climate goal can't be achieved unless we all work together.  

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What about Greenly?

If reading this page has inspired you to reduce your carbon emissions to further the fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you advance the environmental cause at your company, starting with an accurate carbon footprint assessment to show how much carbon emissions your business produces.

More details an advice can be found on our website - Click here.

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