Brexit’s Impact on Environmental Policy: The Pros and Cons

Jun 20, 2016 5:45 PM ET

Brexit’s Impact on Environmental Policy: The Pros and Cons

The outcome of this week’s referendum about whether Great Britain should leave the European Union—the so-called “Brexit”— is uncertain. So are the potential environmental policy consequences.

Many of those in the “remain” camp point to the Paris Accord, COP21, as evidence of how EU membership is critical in driving the UK’s engagement with climate change issues. They also point to examples such as the fact that 50% of the particulate matter in the UK’s air comes from emissions by European countries, and say that the pollution problem can be addressed only by a multinational clean air initiative.

Remainers also point out that UK energy policy has been, and continues to be, shaped by the European Commission’s forward-looking regulations. The “leavers” argue that recent UK environmental legislation has been passed without EU interaction. Leavers also argue that companies are better placed than governments to create innovative solutions, and that UK business is taking leadership roles on sustainability issues apart from the EU’s environmental governance. Whichever way the vote goes, there will be a re-set for environmental policy in the UK.

I'm John Howell for 3BL Media.

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