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Cameron’s Green Push for U.K. Off Track, Lawmakers Say

Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to make his government the “greenest ever” is making little headway, U.K. lawmakers said in a report.

Progress in seven of 10 key environmental areas is “unsatisfactory,” Parliament’s multi-party Environmental Audit Committee said today. The remaining -- air pollution, biodiversity, flooding and coastal protection -- saw no improvement or even had a deterioration, it said.

“In none of the 10 environmental areas we have examined is satisfactory progress being made despite the necessary urgency,” the committee wrote in its environmental scorecard report. “Government must commit to improve the situation in all environmental areas, if not in this Parliament then over the term of the next.”

The U.K. targets cutting greenhouse gases in half through 2025 from 1990 levels and has expanded wind and solar energy to decarbonize its energy system. Its environmental protection efforts include trying to reduce the number of plastic bags 60 percent, spending 3.2 billion pounds on flood and coastal defenses and creating 65,000 hectares of new priority habitat since 2011.

Invasive Species

On biodiversity, three out of four bird populations surveyed experienced a drop in population, and there was an increase of invasive species that harm the habitats of native animals, the committee found.

Air pollution is a “major environmental gap” after emissions of some pollutants increased last year after being steady in the three years before that, it said.

Nine of the 24 water areas in England and Wales are classified as experiencing serious water stress. About 5.4 million properties are at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water, it said.

The government should come up with a broad new environment strategy and set up an independent body to advise it on targets, existing and new policies and how to best use resources to achieve greater environmental protection, the committee wrote.