Comment and analysis by Leicester Green Party, and its fellow-travellers
A post from Steve (Thank you Steve!)
Following on from other blogs about the impact of a Brexit, I am writing specifically about the impact on action to combat climate change. I have been very disappointed that, across the mainstream media, the arguments put forward, by both sides, have been largely shallow and aimed at the electorate’s immediate self-interest. Predictably, the arguments from both sides revolve around potential impacts on business, jobs and immigration. I’ve seen very little coverage of what has been called the greatest challenge ever to face our species – climate change. This is a pity because, when you think about it, the case for staying in the European Union, as a benefit to the climate, is obvious.
Only 4 months ago, I and thousands of others were in Paris to witness, first hand, the end of the GOP21 climate negotiations. Despite many differences, everyone agreed that this urgent issue could only be dealt with by all nations working together in closer union. Countries around the globe are suffering the terrible effects of climate change without any bearing on how much CO2 they themselves are producing or their nation’s trading arrangements. Pollution knows no borders, especially climate change gases, which stay in the atmosphere for decades. Destruction of the planet’s biosphere is an issue for all humanity. There is no opting out.
At the Paris talks, the EU was able to negotiate powerfully as a block, with the UK being an active member. As a result, the world made some progress in agreeing a way forward. If we weren’t in the EU, we would have almost no say in such negotiations. Following the accord, the EU has further acted together in making binding commitments for its members.
Of course, Europe is not the world and many people say that what the EU does about climate is irrelevant but, whilst we certainly need to engage in UN and other global discussions, working within the EU is much better than not. More co-operation is better than less co-operation and here are some specifics about the reality of how this is working:
An important part of the EU’s response to climate change has been the Emissions Trading System (ETS). This is riddled with flaws and could be much tougher, however, the UK has been a lead supporter of a strong and effective ETS and associated caps on emissions. Other EU members would like to see this system weakened so without the UK it is more likely that this would happen and emission caps raised. The ETS only works within a trading union so if other countries followed the UK in leaving, it would be ineffective.
The EU has imposed targets for the adoption of renewables. Even with the EU regulations, our current government has been lacklustre in promoting renewables. Imagine what happens if we leave.
Similarly, the EU has imposed targets for the reduction of energy use in buildings (and building development) and also regulations for the reduction in CO2 emission by car manufacturers.
An important function of the EU is to redistribute resources in order to ensure that all member state can meet obligations such as the ones above.
It is said that by leaving the EU, we will have much more control over our destiny. This is not only wrong but also the opposite of the truth. Our destiny is bound up with our environment and we are already feeling the effects of climate change. We can only secure a better future by working with other countries. Even if we had as strong a voice in international affairs as we once did, the sad truth is that, judging by recent voting trends, most people in the country would prioritize immediate issues like job security, fuel duty and house prices. Furthermore, and along with other national governments, we are currently being pulled to the right in terms of policies. This is why we need a strong, over-arching body to mitigate against the short-termism of national politics.
More detailed information about what regulations the EU is implementing in support of the climate can be found here:
More information about the work of the European Green Party can be found here: https://europeangreens.eu/themes/climate-change-and-energy
A very detailed analysis of the consequences for the environment of leaving the EU, can be found here: