environment politics

Brexit could undermine every aspect of Britain’s environment

A coalition of green organisations has warned that every aspect of Britain’s environment could be put at risk by Brexit. Britain has relied on the EU for its environmental laws for decades. As it leaves the EU, it will no longer be bound by those laws, potentially stripping away decades of gains in protecting the natural environment.

Of course, the government could write all EU law into British law and maintain the same standards. That would provide continuity for businesses as well as protecting the environment. That was the policy at one point in what has been a four year process so far. Not under Boris Johnson.

Where countries have lower standards, they have not been able to sell in the EU, which is one of the many thousands of things that make Donald Trump mad. As Britain goes begging for negotiates a post-Brexit trade deal, the United States will be asking for lower standards, and they are likely to get them.

Greener UK, a coalition that includes just about every environmental organisation you could think of in the country, has been tracking progress in Brexit policy over the last few years. They have been publishing a risk tracker showing which areas of the environment are likely to be protected, and which ones are at risk. It tracks plans for air pollution, chemicals, water, waste and resources, fisheries, climate and energy, farming and land use, and nature protection. Each sector is graded high, medium or low risk, and assigned a colour.

Here’s the the latest:

This is a risk tracker. It doesn’t mean that the environment definitely will be worse off, and highlighting the risk in this way helps to keep the public informed about what the government is planning. The general public don’t want any regression on environmental legislation – 80% of people want continuity with EU laws or better.

But the general public doesn’t get to write the laws or negotiate the trade deals. That is going to be done by the free market libertarians of the Conservative government. I’ve always argued that Brexit is essentially an exercise in disaster capitalism for the benefit of the 1%. That looks more likely than ever, especially with a government apparently relaxed about the prospect of a no deal exit in January.

For more detail on the risks to the environment, visit the Greener UK tracker and you can read up on progress on the Fisheries Bill, Agriculture Bill and so on. And there’s a campaign running at Friends of the Earth if you want to sign their open letter on trade deals.

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