These are possible consequences of Brexit for climate goals

Members of the House of Commons voted on 14 March 2019 to postpone Brexit until the end of June. After the Brexit, it will be difficult for the EU to achieve its internationally promised climate targets. The British have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions far more than Germany and many other EU countries. Also, they have been a driving force at international climate conferences.

The UK has so far been a strong and active partner in climate protection

According to Eurostat data, Britain's emissions fell by 31.5 percent between 1990 and 2014. As a comparison: in Germany it was 26.5 percent and in the EU average only 23 percent.

The last British coal mine was closed in 2015. In the same year, the British government announced its intention to shut down all coal-fired power plants by 2025 and replace them with gas and nuclear power plants. Gas-fired power plants emit less carbon dioxide than coal-fired power plants. The country is less interested in renewable energies.

Great Britain will completely renounce coal until 2025. In contrast to Germany, the country with the most energy-efficient energy system. In 2008, the British Parliament enacted the "Climate Change Act", which established climate protection across all party lines; an independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) regularly measures and criticises the government's progress towards a climate-neutral society. "Climate protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive," concludes the current study by an environmental organization. This is probably due to the high prices for climate sinners. Anyone who blows up a ton of CO2 pays 25 Euros on the island - five times more than in Germany.

Development of energy supply

According to the environmental organization "Friends of the Earth", 85 percent of British environmental laws are based on EU regulations. If they will be missing, less stringent environmental legislation could be the consequence. The company fears the return of the "dirty man of Europe" as Britain was called in the 1970s and 1980s. 

One of the key points is the precautionary principle enshrined in EU legislation. This means that companies must prove that their products are safe for the environment and people before they can be traded freely. Even suspicion is enough to ban them. Many other countries, such as the USA, do not have such regulations, which is why the dangerousness of a product has to be proven retrospectively in order to take it off the market. The precautionary principle does not exist in British law either.

As a last point, the energy supply will also change with Brexit - to the detriment of the British population. Energy will become massively more expensive in the UK because nuclear power is subsidised, gas is expensive and there is little ambition for increased energy efficiency, experts estimate. and EU nature reserves will be under threat.

Thinktank Green Alliance also fears that the country's economic crisis following Brexit could lead to a weakening of environmental standards. In the past, economic crises had already led to nature conservation laws and climate targets being abandoned in order to help industry. Economic instability could, for example, lead lobbyists and climate sceptics to question climate protection laws with reference to the country's economic competitiveness.

Climate conferences and connections to US

The Brexit will also have an impact on the EU's climate negotiations. Without Great Britain, the difficult negotiations, especially with the USA, will become even more problematic, experts say. Great Britain, together with Germany, was the driving force; if this is now eliminated, it will become more difficult. One of the aims of future climate conferences will be to raise national climate targets so that global warming is limited to well below two degrees as agreed.

The Brexit could still have something good: The plans to build the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the southwest of Great Britain could fail - the French energy group EDF delays a final decision. Brexit will bring even more imponderability and make an investment in a future EU country more uncertain. It would actually force Great Britain out of the EURATOM Treaty, the foundation of the European nuclear industry. As a result, the British could no longer resort to EURATOM subsidies for Hinkley Point C, and the other nuclear power plants on the island could also come under economic pressure.

DM