It has been pretty clear from the get go that Brexit was always going to be a controversial topic, from immigration, health care, transport and the environment. Working within the environmental sector a lot of people I know based their votes on the environment and what would happen to it if we left.
Now we are living in a post Brexit, with half of the population a bit miffed ( a nice way of putting it) with the other half, a lot of legislation, funding and hope is up in the air. So let us try look on the bright side and look at 5 reasons that Brexit could in fact help out the environment.
1. The Carbon Trading Scheme can be fixed.
Since Brexit the pound has not been the only things value that has been falling. The cost of the Carbon Trading scheme has also been falling, meaning that to pollute the atmosphere actually costs less now, which is not good new I know but please bare with me. It was British politicians that were critical in the persuasion of the EU to set up a Emissions Trading System (ETS) in 2005, allowing large carbon emitters, such as factors, to buy the right to pollute. The aim of the ETS was supposed to be the main drive to reduce carbon emission, a carbon tax if you will, however it has been recognized as a massive failure! It has allowed the trading in emissions price to be too low and too volatile to allow for large emission reductions, with the latest crash in prices as a result of Brexit exposing more evidence in the system’s flaws.
What is needed is a steady rising price for polluting; this will force large polluters into actually investing in emission reducing technology end equipment, not buy up rights to pollute when prices are down. Even thought the UK could potentially remain as part of the ETS after Brexit, it will loose all influence within the board. Hopefully with its influence gone there will be a better chance for reforms that the system desperately needs and the UK has been voting against.
2. The UK would not to able to soften EU laws anymore.
Taking to environmentalists, the largest concern raised was upon leaving the EU was the UK will abandon laws covering everything from wildlife conservation, recycling, sewage and air pollution. It is known that at lest 3 laws, including a ban on the dumping of raw sewage into waters where people swim, will be lost upon the signing article 50.
Many British MP and businesses alike have stated that they would wish that the UK to remain within the single market of the EU. If this new arrangement is in anyway like Norway’s then the UK would still be bound by most EU laws, but it would loose the right to have any say on them.
The UK has been known in recent years to block or soften legislation regarding environment regulations, a prime example is David Cameron blocking an attempt to introduce ruling to prevent and stop frackers polluting the environment and triggering too many earthquakes. With the UK having no leg to stand on when it comes to rebutting new environmental laws they will be passes soon and be implemented with out question. This could potentially leading to strong environmental legislation if the UK has no say.
3. Climate action will still stand.
Conforming to the Paris climate agreement may have just gotten a bit more complicated for the UK. The EU signed the agreement on behalf of all members, since Brexit some renegotiation will have to be done for the UK, or at all.
With the UK already being committed to cutting emissions by 80% by the year 2050, under the 2008 Climate Act (this has nothing to do with the EU), even if little or no emission cutting is officially signed in the wake of leaving the EU the UK will still be legally bound by the Climate Act of 2008. Meaning that is will still have set goals and be held more accountable to missing them, compared to being able to pass the blame to other EU nations when targets are missed.
4. Losing CAP may benefit wildlife
Did you know half of the EU’s budget is spent on CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)? Neither did I till I started researching this.
CAP overlooks £3.5 billion going to landowners within the UK every year. To maintain this funding the land in question does not need to be farmed, it just has to be kept bare, ready for agricultural planting or grazing. This means that the land may not be developed, by losing this we may lose large sections of land that were kept free of housing. But it also kept land that could be used as valuable wildlife habitats kept barren. Post Brexit many people would assume that the UK government would be covering the cost of CAP themselves (this was promised by some Leave campaigners). However with the economic downturn it could also show that the government may not be able to afford these large subsidies, leading them the be cut or stopped all together.
This will inevitably put a lot of farmers under financial pressure, with many already in that situation. Farmers facing these stressor’s will most likely turn to more intensive, and less wildlife friendly farming practices to allow for financial stability. This in turn we could see a lot of land previously being left undeveloped able to be turned into parks, supporting large wildlife-rich habitats due to the lack of incentive to leave it barren.
5.Gene Editing can be used within the UK
How Gene Editing can help the environment is endless, by taking decades and million of pounds off the price tag of conventional cross breeding, to removing the need of hundreds of millions of tonnes of pesticides that are put on crops, by simply breeding them to become distasteful to the pests.
Gene editing results are indistinguishable from results of conventional breeding. Many countries have decided that gene-editing organisms should not be questioned to the same restrictions and practices as organisms that have genetically modified to contain genes from other species.
The EU has been debating this topic for a number of years. The UK now stands to debate this topic itself, allowing it to decide to create, cultivate and consume gene-editing organisms by itself, including these organisms designed to create a smaller environmental footprint then conventional counterparts. This in turn may end up help farmers who are financially pressured due to the loss of CAP, see above.
It is likely that the UK might open doors to all genetically modified orgasms in general, as it has long been in favour of these technologies but has been restricted in its interests due to the EU’s incisiveness.
If these 5 ideas didn’t quell your doubt you can always rely on the fact that in the last economic downturn in 2008, something that the post Brexit economy is looking at, there were lower carbon emissions. It may not be the best way at reducing emissions but we are looking for the bright side. Now fingers crossed politicians use this opportunity to push for a better environment!
Please be aware that these are my views
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