Greener UK
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Climate & energy

June 2016 - June 2017


The government has indicated the UK’s interest in staying within the internal energy market, maintaining co-operation on various technical standards that govern electricity trading, but has stated that all positions are up for negotiation, thereby leaving room for uncertainty. The government has reiterated that the UK’s Climate Change Act will be the guiding force for policy, but as yet no strategy has been published for managing Brexit’s implications for meeting carbon budgets. 

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Principles & strategies
The UK government has indicated its interest in staying in the EU’s internal energy market, but is clear that this is up for negotiation, so the result is uncertain. The UK government has confirmed plans to exit Euratom, as it believes it is not open to countries that are not EU member states, but will seek to renegotiate entry. If the UK ends up leaving Euratom for good, this would increase the complexity and cost of negotiations for several bilateral agreements necessary for nuclear fuel supply, safeguards and other co-operation arrangements

The government’s stated goal in the Great Repeal Bill White Paper is to “ensure that the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in domestic law”. This broad commitment is reassuring, yet it is stated elsewhere that the bill will only convert EU law into domestic law “wherever practical and sensible”, and it is not yet clear whether this could create gaps in energy and climate policy.

The UK’s recent vote to strengthen the EU rules governing pollution from large combustion plants indicates a commitment to strong policy on greenhouse gas emissions going forwards. On the other hand, The Daily Telegraph reported government sources saying that renewable energy targets would be scrapped after the UK leaves the EU.

Capacity & funding
There has been no news on the future of financing for low carbon energy infrastructure in the UK from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB does invest in countries that are not EU member states, but the UK’s share of investment is expected to be significantly reduced after it leaves the EU. Historically the UK has been one of the EIB’s largest loan recipients.
The Great Repeal Bill White Paper does not make clear what (if any) domestic governance arrangements will be put in place to replace the European Court of Justice and the role it jointly plays with other EU institutions in providing the monitoring, oversight, accountability, and enforcement functions required to ensure the effective implementation of EU-derived energy policies.
The UK continues to participate in and provide inputs to the ongoing EU negotiations on the Clean Energy Package, but recent inputs from the UK government to dilute proposed targets and legislation on energy efficiency and the governance of the Energy Union have provided cause for concern. The EU needs to be more ambitious in its 2030 targets, and any efforts by the UK government to undermine them will tarnish its position as a climate leader.