What Does Brexit Mean For Climate Change?

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EU Objectives for 2030

Brexit has made many headlines, both before and after the outcome of the referendum on 23 June 2016. Although there is still a lot of uncertainty with regard to the consequences and exit arrangements, we can already look at the potential impact of environmental, social and governance commitments made by the UK.

In addition to the 2020 objective, the EU has defined its objective for 2030. It boils down to a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 27% share of renewable energy in the primary energy supply. This objective has been defined including the United Kingdom and revolves around two main axes: the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the share of renewable energy in the energy supply. Indisputably, the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU impacts the commitment made for 2030.

..What about the EU then?

 Since the UK is no longer part of the aggregated EU statistics, the EU will be obliged either to lower its commitment or to ask the remaining members to put in more efforts by means of compensation. More specifically, according to HSBC calculations, in order to obtain a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, Member States should contribute an additional 7.6% reduction. It may seem relatively easy since it will be divided among 27 states. However, as some large emitters are resisting, it is no easy task.

One other important element to consider is that the UK exit would lead to a redistribution of the voting rights in the European Parliament. Therefore, the climate-skeptic countries would rise. This compromises the commitment to work harder and make more investments in renewable energy.

The UK Environmental Commitments

As far as the UK is concerned, it is quite possible that, even without the EU, the United Kingdom may show a strong commitment to climate change. We should indeed stress that in 2008 the country adopted the Climate Change Act, which remains valid up to now and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Moreover, the UK has achieved impressive results when it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency. Particularly, between 1990 and 2014, the country’s energy consumption fell by 10% while its GDP increased by 65%.

All in all, despite the fact that the climate is not a priority in the discussions about the exit arrangements, climate change remains a challenge today and requires a global, ambitious and swift response.

 

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