UK Government sets out Environmental Targets

The UK Government has published its set of legally binding targets for protecting the environment, boosting nature, and cleaning up air and rivers.

There are thirteen targets in total, which require the UK Government to:

  • Halt the decline in species populations by 2030, and, by 2042, increase populations by at least 10%
  • Restore precious water bodies to their natural state by cracking down on harmful pollution from sewers and abandoned mines as well as improving water usage in households
  • Deliver our net zero ambitions and boost nature recovery by increasing tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of the total land area in England by 2050
  • Halve the waste per person that is sent to residual treatment by 2042
  • Cut exposure to the most harmful air pollutant to human health – PM2.5
  • Restore 70% of designated features in our Marine Protected Areas to a favourable condition by 2042, with the rest in a recovering condition

There is concern that these targets are not nearly ambitious enough, and suffer from some notable absences, with no targets for protected areas or the overall improvement of water quality. Without these dedicated targets, it will be difficult for the UK to achieve its international commitment of protecting 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

The Government will publish more details in its Environmental Improvement Plan in January 2023, setting out how it will achieve these targets, as well as smaller, interim targets.