Report shows that Britain has a better environment and more opportunity for climate leadership thanks to EU
Image: Greenpeace activists protest London’s air pollution levels
Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/ Greenpeace
EU membership is good for the UK’s environment – that’s the ‘overwhelming view’ of environmental experts, according to parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee.
In a report on EU and UK environmental policy, the committee finds that in areas like air and water pollution, biodiversity and fuel efficiency, EU membership has increased the pace of change in the UK, and allowed the public and civil society to hold government to account.
The implication is that the UK government, acting alone, would relax its standards on environmental protection.
‘Environmental problems don’t respect borders,’ commented committee chair Mary Creagh MP.
‘When it comes to protecting our natural environment and dealing with global problems like climate change, the overwhelming evidence is that EU membership has improved the UK’s approach to the environment and ensured that the UK’s environment has been better protected.’
Additionally, the EU affords Britain a stronger platform to pursue its environmental objectives. Creagh believes that ‘our voice at the Paris climate change conference was louder because we were part of a club of 28 countries’.
Although the government is currently under fire over dangerous levels of air pollution and rollback on renewable energy, the committee believes that without EU influence the situation would be worse. For example, the government has only proposed anti-pollution measures such as low emission zones because of its defeat in the European court of justice.
‘The EU is a champion of environmental protection and the fight against climate change,’ commented Stanley Johnson, chair of Environmentalists for Europe, in response to the report.
‘Thanks to our membership of the EU, we are able to work together with other countries to draw on Europe’s green policymaking expertise and push for environmental reforms that protect nature across borders.’
Yesterday, 11 climate experts from across politics, academia and civil society warned that post-Brexit, ‘the UK’s standing as an international climate leader could recede within months’.
In a letter to the Guardian, they said:
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‘Last winter’s floods have demonstrated [that] climate change is a real and present threat to the UK.
Our experience of the past 20 years leads us to conclude that we are stronger, safer and greener in the European Union.’