Brexit could have “huge environmental cost” for Scotland
Leading energy efficiency expert warns: “The Scottish Government has always been more forward-looking than the rest of the UK when it comes to climate change and energy efficiency – but it might not be possible for that to continue after Brexit.
A Glasgow energy expert is warning Scotland may have no choice but to sabotage its own progress on combating climate change to compete economically with England following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union
The majority of environmental regulations affecting Scotland are devolved to Holyrood and the Scottish Government has committed to maintaining current laws aligned with European laws at the moment of Brexit – but energy efficiency expert Raj Chall of Scottish Energy Services believes this does not mean climate change targets will not have to be scaled back in the future.
There is currently very little clarity about what Brexit will mean for UK climate change and energy efficiency policy.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter triggering Article 50 contained no references to Climate Change, although the EU’s response stated that
“any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is conditional on the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards provided by the Union’s legislation and policies, in among others the fields of environment (and) climate change…”
The Conservative Party General Election manifesto also offered little clarity as to the government’s intentions, pledging to spell out “how we will improve our environment as we leave the European Union” at a later date.
The manifesto also stated that future energy policy would be
“focused on outcomes rather than the means”
which has been interpreted by some as implying that there will be less emphasis on developing renewable technology capacity in the future and an abandonment of the EU target that 15% of UK energy be generated by renewable sources by 2020.
Senior Foreign Office civil servant Tim Hitchens also admitted in a speech earlier this year:
“Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts – you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.”
Critical questions about British climate change and energy efficiency policy after Brexit remain, including:
- Does the UK going to stay in the EU’s emissions trading scheme after Brexit?
- Will existing European Union environmental standards and renewable energy targets be maintained after Brexit?
- Will the UK still recognise EU air pollution targets?
- How will the government replace billions of pounds in EU funding for low carbon infrastructure?
June’s Queen’s Speech contained commitments from that the UK government will publish proposals on how it intends to replace Euratom, the pan-European nuclear energy regulator, and a commitments to pursuing the environmental targets agreed in the Paris Climate Change Treaty.
Energy efficiency expert and commercial EPC specialist Raj Chall of Scottish Energy Services has concerns over where the British government’s post-Brexit energy efficiency and climate change policy will mean for Scotland.
“The Scottish Government has always been more forward-looking than the rest of the UK when it comes to climate change and energy efficiency – but it might not be possible for that to continue after Brexit.
“Scotland’s ambitions to be the greenest country in Europe are our own, but a lot of the most important environmental legislation driving that agenda, such as the Commercial EPC rules and Section 63 legislation improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings, was inspired by EU regulations.
“Section 63 legislation, which requires commercial buildings to make physical improvements to improve their energy efficiency came into force in Scotland in 2016 – two years earlier than England. That’s how far ahead of the curve we’ve been until now.
“We’ve already heard rumours of senior Conservatives suggesting environmental and safety standards could be slashed to help set up trade deals after Brexit and if this were to happen the Scottish Government would come under incredible pressure to ensure that business north of the border were not held back by regulatory burdens not affecting the rest of the UK, purely to remain economically competitive.
“But this economic competitiveness could come at huge environmental cost for Scotland.”
Scottish Energy Services are Scotland’s energy experts and leading consultants for Commercial EPC Glasgow and Commercial EPC Edinburgh. They have also been commended for their work assisting businesses become compliant with the new Section 63 legislation affecting energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
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