Fresh poll of over 1,500 IEMA members gives insight into potential environment and sustainability implications of “Brexit”

An IEMA members survey carried out during the past week shows that the majority believe the UK has benefited from EU environment and climate policy and that European membership has been positive for UK business.

Over 1,500 members responded to the first of IEMA’s online polls to test views on different aspects of UK/EU environmental policy. The majority of respondents said they believe that the UK is influential in the development of EU environment and climate policy (78%) and that being part of the EU gives the UK more international clout, with the ability to exert greater international influence on environmental outcomes by working within the EU block of 28 countries (82%).

82% of IEMA members agree that operating within the EU provides a policy landscape that is more stable and therefore potentially more effective for both businesses and the environment over the medium to longer term.

IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter said today: “Environment and sustainability professionals frequently cite policy certainty as being a key enabler of investment for long term improvement programmes. Whichever way the vote goes, it is crucial to maintain long-term policy stability and continuity in the areas of environment and climate change”.

Overall, 70% of members feel that the UK voting to leave the EU would have a negative effect on their organisation; 10% a positive effect and 20% no effect. In terms of the impact on the environment and sustainability profession overall: 74% believe it would have a detrimental effect; 7% positive and 19% no overall effect.

When exploring the ability of the UK to achieve its long-term climate change targets the poll revealed:

  • 57% believe the UK is more likely to achieve long term carbon emissions if it is part of the EU
  • 29% believe there is an equal chance whether the UK is in or out of the EU
  • 14% believe that the UK can achieve them on its own

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK set itself a 2050 target to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 80% compared with 1990 levels, with a legally binding target of a 35% emissions reduction by 2020. Separately, EU Member States set a legally binding target that at least 20% of the EU’s total energy needs would come from renewables by 2020; the UK’s national target is 15% renewable energy by 2020. Considering the UK carbon and EU renewable energy 2020 targets, IEMA members responded as follows:

  • 45% believe that the renewable energy target is consistent with, and contributory to, the UK achieving its 2020 GHG emissions reduction target in a cost effective way
  • 40% think UK implementation of the renewable energy target could be achieved more cost effectively that current policy is delivering, and is therefore making achievement of the 2020 GHG target more expensive than it otherwise needs to be
  • 15% believe that the renewable energy target imposes additional unnecessary costs; there are cheaper ways for the UK to achieve its 2020 GHG emissions target

The Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) implements the requirements of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive as it relates to large enterprises in the UK and should have the benefit of helping to reduce energy consumption (and therefore carbon emissions) and costs. Responses from members with experience of ESOS said that:

  • 19% led to cost effective energy savings that would not have been achieved without ESOS
  • 50% gave information on where cost-effective energy savings can be made, but which have yet to be implemented
  • 31% required energy audits and reviews being undertaken that have not highlighted opportunities for cost-effective energy savings.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.