UK stays “committed to dealing with climate change” despite Brexit vote

Around a week after the UK voters’ decision to leave the European Union, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd on Wednesday (June 29) said government’s commitment on climate change and clean energy has not changed. Delivering a speech to the Business & Climate Summit in London, Rudd assured UK will not step back from its commitments both domestically and abroad.

“As a Government, we are fully committed to delivering the best outcome for the British people – and that includes delivering the secure, affordable, clean energy our families and business need. That commitment has not changed. Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security”.

Rudd pointed out that the nation’s efforts were “central” to delivering the Paris Agreement and those efforts will not be curbed despite leaving the EU. “The UK will not step back from that international leadership. We must not turn our back on Europe or the world. Our relationships with the United States, China, India, Japan and other European countries will stand us in strong stead as we deliver on the promises made in Paris”.

The outcome of the EU referendum of June 23 has sparked huge uncertainty about whether the UK can choose to water-down its climate policy and how the Brexit – still undecided – process will affect the definition of EU 2030 targets and the ratification of the Paris climate deal.

Speaking at the same summit in London, outgoing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres turned down fears the UK referendum could delay the ratification of the Paris Agreement and undermine long-term investment in tackling climate change, Businness Green reports. Figueres emphasised the Brexit vote was not directly about climate policy and clean tech innovation strategy, arguing that as such the vote should not be interpreted as a judgment on the UK’s long-standing commitment to tackling climate change.

The first testing ground is the approval of the Fifth Carbon Budget under 2008 Climate Change Act. According to The Guardian and Bloomberg, the UK government is going to adopt it on Friday (June 30), setting a new goal of reducing the country’s emissions by 57 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd also confirmed the rumors in her speech in London. The Fifth Carbon Budget is mandated to reach UK’s long-term goal to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050 and it builds on the 36 percent reduction already achieved by 2014 and the 52 percent cut by 2025 already committed under the existing four carbon budgets, analysis of the UK Committee on Climate Change explained.

UPDATE: on Friday (June 30) the UK government set the Fifth Carbon Budget for the period 2028–2032 at 1,725 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), corresponding to an emission reduction in 2030 of around 57 compared to 1990 levels.


(Image: Leader of UK Independence Party (UKIP) and leading Brexit campaigner, Nigel Farage, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the extraordinary session of European Parliament in Brussels on June 28. Photo credit: European Union 2016 – European Parliament on Flickr)