This blog was first published by Business Green.
The unprecedented, prolonged heatwave that Britain and much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing seems to have brought climate change, albeit temporarily, to the forefront of our public and political discourse. A timely report from the Environmental Audit Committee has warned there will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050, triple today’s rate, if we do not take further action. Former energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd penned a Times op-ed stating climate change is here and rising global temperatures are already baked in. But the thrust of her argument was that a madcap approach to Brexit could unravel Britain’s ambitious climate goals. Addressing climate change, she said, requires “co-operation, shared sovereignty and internationalism.”
Something quite momentous happened on 18 July. The prime minister announced the first dedicated environment bill for over twenty years. Have no doubt that this is as major a policy announcement as they come, although it might easily have been missed as it was tucked away in an answer to a question on air quality when Theresa May was grilled by select committee chairs on their subject areas. Luckily this tweet sealed the deal and the announcement is now common knowledge and an important platform from which to build.
This blog was first published by UK in a Changing Europe.
It is very rare that environmental groups, health charities, animal rights campaigners, industry and the general population all ask the government to do the same thing. And yet, when it comes to chemical regulation after Brexit, that’s exactly what’s happening.
This blog was written by Stephen Hinchley, principal policy officer at the RSPB.
Environmentalists in the UK and the EU now have something to work with following the government’s proposals, published in a white paper yesterday, to include environmental co-operation in the UK’s future partnership agreement with the EU.
Could the UK leave the European Union in March next year without a deal? For all the talk of ‘no deal being better than a bad deal’, the suggestion seems absurd. No deal would be a disaster for both sides in the negotiations. Britain would crash out of the EU without a transition period, plunging the whole continent into recession. Surely no rational government would go there? Surely sensible people will agree, in the end, to do sensible things, and there will be some great, last minute Euro-compromise?
Well, maybe. But governments do not always behave rationally. Read more
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is being debated in the House of Lords and peers have been raising their concerns about the bill’s gaps and deficiencies. They have tabled over 100 amendments to the bill, several of which are being voted on and mostly passed.
The worry that Brexit might erode environmental safeguards has featured heavily throughout the bill’s parliamentary passage. The environment has vied successfully with constitutional law issues for airtime. And yesterday’s debate was no different. Environmental governance and principles were discussed alongside the rights of UK citizens and a proposal to give the European Court of Justice some say over UK laws after exit day.
A year on from the prime minister’s letter invoking Article 50, the Brexit hourglass is now half full, or half empty depending on your political disposition. Optimist or pessimist, Leaver or Remainer, the fact is there is now less time for Theresa May and her enthusiastic Environment Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on their promise of a “green Brexit”. Read more
At the end of January the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was the subject of a record-breaking debate in the House of Lords. One hundred and ninety peers spoke at the bill’s second reading, including several members of the expert Constitution Committee, which concluded that “the Bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty in this country”. There was also widespread concern about the ability of parliament to hold the government to account, the loss of the charter of fundamental rights and the implications for devolution. Read more
This post is by Donal McCarthy, senior policy officer at the RSPB and co-ordinator of the Greener UK ‘Brexit and Devolution’ working group.
From the coverage surrounding the launch of the UK government’s long awaited 25 year environment plan last week, one could easily have been forgiven for thinking it set out a long term strategy for restoring nature across the four UK nations. In fact, most of its proposals will only apply to England and, to a more limited extent, the UK Overseas Territories.
No vision for collaboration between UK nations
Since the late 90s, most areas of environmental policy have been devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As such, the new plan largely focuses on those aspects of environmental policy reserved to the UK government. Read more
This post is by Andy Jordan, Charlie Burns and Viviane Gravey, co-chairs of the ESRC funded Brexit & Environment network.
The EU has mostly exerted its influence through the medium of law and policy. For many non-experts, 29 March 2017 (when Article 50 was triggered) was the day when the risk that large parts of the UK’s environment could lose their legislative protections suddenly became very real indeed.