Brexit and environmental policy

Changes to the UK’s environmental policy are imminent. A key paper authored by an independent group of UK and EU researchers, Brexit and Environment, co-chaired by UEA’s Professor Andy Jordan, concluded that irrespective of the type of Brexit served, the UK will gain greater autonomy in changing its environmental laws.  

The UK has been key in securing strong EU climate regulations, but a no-deal Brexit would allow the UK to change its climate regulations on emissions and renewables without EU approval. For instance, the UK’s new Carbon Emissions Tax: in the event of a hard no-deal Brexit, charges £10 cheaper per tonne of carbon emitted than the price charged under the EU, which could increase emissions in the long run. 

Moreover, the €4 billion per year that farmers are receiving under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be revoked and a new framework will be needed. The government has, however, committed to retaining current levels of cash support for farmers until 2022. 

Another detriment of Brexit is the availability and prices of food in the UK. With 30 percent of food eaten coming from the EU, the Lords Select Committee has found that food imports cannot be easily replaced by producing more food or importing more from non-EU countries. While the government hopes to negotiate a trade agreement, nothing is guaranteed. 

Irrespective of Brexit, the UK will continue to enforce the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the management of fisheries. Nevertheless, a no-deal Brexit would have an immediate impact on access to fishing grounds for EU and UK flagged vessels. 

Against this backdrop, global carbon emissions have surged. For this alarming trend to change, climate advocates and the government should prioritize averting a no-deal Brexit. 

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Monique Santoso

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August 2022
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