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Climate & environment policies are not 'Brexit' bargaining chips says EU as Article 50 is triggered

Thu 30 March 2017 | Back to news list

The UK will have to adhere to the European Union’s environmental and climate change-related policy if it is to have any future agreement with the trading bloc, according to the first EU response to the triggering of Article 50. Earlier analysis showed that EU 'enabling policy' for road transport is responsible for nearly 90% of the policy-driven reductions in CO2 emissions from the sector which are planned to be achieved by 2030.

A leaked copy of a draft motion for a resolution from the European Parliament, published in The Guardian, said that “any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is conditional on the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards provided by the Union’s legislation and policies, in among others the fields of environment, climate change…”

This statement was taken as providing some assurances to environmentalists who fear the UK government could roll back on the environmental ambition and targets set by the EU when laws and regulations are returned to Westminster and the devolved administrations.

Greenpeace UK's chief scientist Dr Doug Parr (also a LowCVP Board member) said (published in Green Energy News): "The triggering of Article 50 will start a process that could change the face of Britain for generations to come. This change won't be for the better if we lose the world-class environmental safeguards that four decades of EU membership have given us.

"Many of the environmental protections we all take for granted are rooted in EU law. Ministers must ensure that the process of transferring these rules over into UK law doesn't weaken them.”

He said the Great Repeal Act must not be used to give ministers power to change environmental legislation at will and that cooperation with the EU must continue as issues like air pollution and climate change “don't form an orderly queue at national borders”.

A  Briefing Note published by the Committee on Climate Change late last year (Meeting Carbon Budgets – Implications of Brexit for UK climate policy) looked at the sectoral contributions to meeting the UK's Fifth Carbon Budget. The CCC said that of the planned 43% reduction in emissions from transport between 2015 and 2030, about 87% of the share of emissions reduction will result from EU-level policies. The key policies listed include new car, van & HGV emission standards, biofuels and air quality regulations.

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