Both Britain and Europe will experience significant implications following the announcement that the UK public voted to leave the EU. Energy, climate change, and environment focused companies have had their say on what the result could mean for the future, and what should happen next.
In a briefing note headed “Brexit Shakes Up Energy and Climate Landscape but Fundamentals Unchanged” released this afternoon the think tank E3G set out that while the result will trigger a protracted exit negotiation process, in the interim there is no change to existing rules and that the fundamentals remain unchanged:
– The global climate crisis demands that the UK and the EU accelerate the decarbonisation of their economies. The UK and EU must continue to work together and with international partners – as they have done in recent years – to strengthen global efforts on climate change. The UK’s domestic Climate Change Act remains in place and the UK will ratify the Paris Agreement. EU climate targets and the EU commitment to implement the Paris Agreement still stand.
– Both the UK and other EU countries already benefit greatly from an integrated energy market, and these benefits will continue to grow through the energy transition. The underlying economics point to a mutual interest in continued UK participation in the integrated European energy market.
– The UK and EU will have strong drivers to maintain investment and jobs despite the economic uncertainty created by the referendum. Core economic drivers for creating a modern clean energy and transport system have strengthened rather than weakened.
The institutional investors group on climate change (IIGCC) called for the government to quickly enact the 5th carbon budget as a test of the government’s intent. CEO Stephanie Pfeifer, said: “We urge ministers to bring forward proposals that fully reflect the independent scientific advice of the Committee on Climate Change.”
This call to enact the 5th carbon budget was echoed by Aldersgate Group Executive Director Nick Molho, who said “it is in the UK’s economic and environmental interest to engage positively in international negotiations on climate change and other environmental issues and support the growth of its low carbon economy through national policy.”
Renewables UK struck an optimistic note, with Chief Executive Hugh McNeal saying after the result: “Our focus will continue to be on delivering power to the UK at the lowest cost. Our future is bright; the European and global opportunities remain immense for the industries I’m proud to represent.”
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has said the result “is likely to put an upwards pressure on energy bills” due to reduced investor confidence, but that climate change legislation “are mostly enshrined in British law” and that “it seems likely that the strong cross-party majority in favour of reducing emissions” would seek to defend them.
Environmental groups have largely focused on the risk to the UK’s environmental regulations on clean air and water in their response. Greenpeace UK’s John Sauven noted: “Many of the laws that make our drinking and bathing water safe, our air cleaner, our fishing industry more sustainable and our climate safer now hang by a thread.”
Client Earth’s CEO James Thornton said the result left uncertainty. He said: “Now as the UK prepares to go it alone, we have no idea which laws will be retained since those who campaigned for Brexit did not have a united position. They failed to make clear during the campaign which environmental laws would be kept. We therefore call upon all parties to promise to maintain existing protections.”
Green Alliance Director Matthew Spencer noted that: “The public did not vote for a race to the bottom, they will expect standards of environmental protection to be at least as strong in the UK as they are in France and Germany.”