Brexit threatens EU climate action

30th September 2019


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IEMA

A lack of faith between the UK and EU amid difficult Brexit negotiations risks future cooperation tackling climate change, research from the University of Sheffield suggests.

Nothing could stop the UK weakening environmental laws under a no-deal exit, according to the analysis, while a future US trade deal may risk collaboration with the EU.

“Brexit has created uncertainty and raised the risk that the climate crisis will be pushed off the political agenda at this critical moment,“ professor Charlotte Burns warned.

Crucially, the risks of a no-deal Brexit for the climate need to be explained and the scope for no-deal to prompt weaker EU climate ambition should not be ignored.“

Burns went on to explain how the UK has been an important counterweight in the EU to climate science denier governments in central and eastern Europe, helping to push the block to adopt stronger environmental regulations.

She added that the UK has set a positive example through domestic policy innovations such as the 2050 target for net-zero carbon emissions and the Climate Change Act, and played an important role in climate diplomacy worldwide.

However, a lack of faith between Brussels and London amid difficult Brexit negotiations puts at risk future cooperation at the international climate change summit, the 26th Conference of the Parties in 2020.

Burns said she is concerned that signals from Downing Street suggest Boris Johnson's government is not interested in pursuing similar environmental standards to the EU.

“The UK and EU should be working together to meet the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement and set out roadmaps to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the continent by 2050, she continued.

“As we move towards an election, it is important that the environment and climate breakdown should be high up the political agenda.

Image credit: ©iStock


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