Carbon Caps and Healthcare: A Look at What We Could Lose Leaving the EU

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EU UK

In the months leading to the Brexit referendum in June 23, 2016, many in the European Union as well as the rest of the globe were speculating as to the implications of such an organizational divorce particularly on carbon emissions and healthcare.

It should be understood that the European Union was the pioneering organization to have unanimously mandated its membership to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to avert global warming. It is also the only regional organization that has a unified healthcare program for all of its citizens via its European Health Insurance Card system. With the results of the referendum already out and the triggering of Article 50 already looming in the horizon, the speculations have been replaced with trepidation and uncertainty.

The EU Emission Trading System was primarily based on the premise that private institutions can play a very significant role in the reduction of greenhouse gases by offering them economic incentives for being able to meet their emission targets. As each organization is given the leeway to reduce its carbon footprint through the use of carbon cap and trade schemes, it has become a lot easier to meet the emission targets without significant control from governments. If a company is more than successful in meeting its targets, it can sell or trade its carbon allowances to other organizations that may require an additional allowance to their caps. It’s a win-win situation.

Unfortunately, the ETS was designed for the European Union with the UK involved. And while at first glance the loser would seem the EU, the economic implications in the long run will be felt by Britons themselves. Because they are no longer part of the EU, the UK will have to draft its own carbon emissions target protocols as well as other relevant ecological policies. The more significant implication is on the economic incentives derived by UK industries. Since they are no longer part of the EU Single Market, such incentives will no longer be afforded to them. Significant belt-tightening measures will have to be put in place to spur continued development without harming the environment.

Another major issue that is making a lot of Britons anxious is the status of their European Health Insurance Card or My EHIC. Without the EHIC, traveling across Europe without getting sick is a must. Otherwise, British tourists will have to be ready with costly medical and health care bills. The EHIC has protected many Britons against expensive medical care while they are traveling to EHIC member nations by gaining access to the state-funded health care of these countries. They don’t have to pay anything. If ever, they will only be paying a small fraction of the cost of healthcare. Without the EHIC, Britons will have to use a private healthcare insurance policy which can increase in premiums because of the increase in coverage.

While these issues are not yet realities, they are nonetheless making almost everyone in the UK apprehensive. Everything hinges on the result of the final negotiations which can only be initiated with the triggering of Article 50 come March 2017. It will still be at least 2 years before any final decisions can be made. Such lengthy period is making people even more anxious of uncertainties.