The UK public will head to the polls next week, in a “climate referendum” that could see it turn its back on decades of progress on environmental issues, including climate change and air pollution.
With UK ministers at the forefront of lobbying efforts in Brussels against stronger air pollution measures, a new poll of environment professionals warns an exit from Europe could see the UK fail to tackle its own air pollution crisis – already responsible for 40,000 early deaths a year.
It follows a host of similar calls from influential voices from politics, business and civil society warning an exit from Europe could have on a wide range of environmental issues.
As the European Commission and member states move forward to ratify the Paris Agreement, and as its citizens call for strong action to limit warming below the agreed 1.5DegC limit, these voices warn by leaving Europe, the UK would also undermine its ability to effectively tackle climate change, and further hit it’s already struggling renewables industry.
- Europe is taking steps forward on climate change. The European Commission has begun its legislative process to ratify the Paris Agreement – ahead of its original schedule – and called for approval as soon as possible. Hungary has already ratified the agreement, andFrance is on track to endorse it this month, while countries including Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Sweden have all indicated their intentions to ratify this year.
- The UK may be attempting to freeze progress on clean energy, but an exit from Europe will almost certainly leave it out in the cold. The latest UK Parliament has been plagued by slashed support for clean energy policy – blamed for the loss of half of the solar industries 35,000 jobs – and energy efficiency, and blind support for dirty fracking. From air pollution, to climate change to its natural habitats, voice after voice is warning that an exit from the EU could see the UK roll-back on decades worth of environmental wins.
- We are facing a global climate crisis, and we need to tackle it together.Climate change doesn’t stop at one country and last December all nations agreed on the need for a collective effort to tackle this growing threat. The UK accounts for two per cent of global emissions, while the EU is responsible for a 20 per cent share, and the UK has more clout inside Europe than out. It has been a strong advocate for ambitious EU climate policy and played an important role in shaping Europe’s contribution to the Paris Agreement.