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Brexits Climate Presents To The UK: A Radiant Image

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a virtual meeting of G7 leaders in the Cabinet Office. [+] 10 Downing Street in London, England on February 19, 2021. The 2021 G Summit will be held from June 11th to 13th at Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

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In November of this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will once again cry over the benefits of Brexit.

That’s when Glasgow, Scotland, UK, will host this year’s UN Climate Conference, effectively handing a megaphone to Johnson to show off its climate ambitions. And thanks to Brexit, he will have something to show off. In accordance with UN guidelines, the UK has made a formal pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030, far beyond the 55% cuts promised by the EU.

As the annual meeting is known, the UK’s role as the organizer of this year’s COP meeting is an example of how the UK withdraws from the EU and offers new opportunities to burn its climate reputation on the world stage. Brexit’s true climate impact may be somewhat negative for what it gets from the rights the UK boasts, but in the end the EU loses that Brexit is a major promotional gift for Britain’s ambition to sell itself as an environmental leader.

COP26 isn’t the only international summit this year that the UK will have the chance to take notice of. Luckily, the UK will host the G7 conference, the world’s largest economy, in Cornwall this June. Climate is set as one of the top priorities for the summit.

Alastair Hamilton, partner at consulting firm McKinsey, said the UK sees decarburization as one of the global challenges that could demonstrate potential leadership. When Brexit wakes up the same year as COP26 and becomes chairman of the G7, Britain will see it as a great diplomatic opportunity.

Philippa Spence, managing director of Ramboll, an environmental engineering consulting firm based in Denmark, agreed. The Johnson government is looking at the green agenda as an opportunity to rebrand after a hit year in 2020 as an opportunity to introduce the UK as a global leader with COP26. In this space.

Britain’s biggest climate coup may have been freed from the nettle-like Westeastern tug of war that plagued the EU’s ability to set binding climate targets. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe, still heavily dependent on coal-fired power, fought vigorously to prevent the EU Commission from adopting stronger headline targets. Only in December, the head of the EU state persuaded other supporters such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to raise the block’s official target above its previous target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. 40%. (The EU needs the consent of all 27 member states to change its targets.)

The UK has committed to its own emission reduction targets as part of its submission to the COP26 meeting held in Glasgow on December 12th in accordance with the 2016 Paris Agreement, using new freedoms from the EU. %.

The UK’s withdrawal from the block also renews interest in the fact that the UK is actually ahead of the EU in other large environmental targets. For example, it promised to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars and vans by 2030, while the EU instead chose to steadily raise fuel economy standards.

Actual costs

Despite Brexit’s reinforcing leadership, Britain’s withdrawal from the block has already cost real money.

The EU has lost valuable member states dedicated to aggressive climate checks. And when the EU and the UK were able to try to decarbonize the economy, they were wasting valuable political capital and time and focused on Brexit negotiations. Brexit seized the EU agenda, according to an academic paper in December 2019.

Even the Johnson administration predicted that the enthusiasm to cut new greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030 would not acknowledge the key facts. The UK would have achieved similar goals even if it was still in the EU.

Even before leaving the block, Shane Tomlinson, vice president of E3G, a European climate think tank, pointed out that even before leaving the block, the UK’s climate commitment was largely stipulated in domestic law, not in agreement with the EU.

Tomlinson said there are many Brexit relatives who want to sell their vision that Britain is now free from the European Union. However, in general, these claims do not pass scrutiny.

The UK, for example, would have had the freedom to increase greenhouse gas cuts in 2030 by 68%, even if it remained in the EU, Tomlinson said. (Even when the EU targets a 40% cut by 2030, he said, the UK has already promised a cut of 57%.) Also, the UK would have remained within the block and could have used its bargaining power. He said to take advantage of the larger promises of member states such as Germany and France.

Of course, if the UK is serious about closing new trade agreements with other countries, it will be able to leverage its global climate impact in a way that the EU cannot have existing trade relations with. But this is not clear.

Brexit could also make the UK less attractive as a haven for advanced energy and climate companies looking for new homes in Europe. It’s still too early to say, but some anecdotal evidence suggests that at least a handful of clean-tech companies are moving beyond the UK to choose the EU, seeking a larger talent visa-free talent pool, reducing reliance on customs inspections at the border. Or greater policy certainty.

This month the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) said it would move the carbon credits exchange from London to Amsterdam as the UK has its own separate plans.

David Hunt, CEO and founder of Hyperion Executive Search looking for talent for clean tech companies, said one of his clients, a U.S. publicly traded company involved in electric vehicle charging, has shifted interest from the UK to Germany, keeping an eye on its location. Established a base of operations in Europe. Among the reasons, Hunt said he was concerned about potential issues associated with importing parts from the EU to the UK.

For electric vehicle producers, the requirements of the origin regulation of the new trade deal mean that UK companies must prove that at least 40% of the value of the finished car parts is produced in the UK, commodity news expert Argus Media reported this month. This could mean the UK will have to produce its own batteries, anodes and cathodes, which is a big change that could push some manufacturers across the channel.

Nevertheless, the number of green tech companies leaving so far has been insignificant and surprising. Jaguar Land Rover unexpectedly decided this month to renovate its British automaker in Midland into a new electric vehicle hub.

Back slide benefits and risks

Declaring more ambitious climate targets is one thing. Can the UK really achieve this?

Experts say a lot depends on whether the UK has decided to lower its environmental standards when pursuing trade deals with non-EU countries. Post-Brexit trading deals include non-regressive provisions and other mechanisms that limit the range of backsliding possibilities to the standard, but the energy section of the deal is temporary and unless a more comprehensive consensus is reached or the deadline expires 6 in 2026. It expires in May. extended.

There are obvious incentives to pursue profitable free trade relations with these strategies, but there are good reasons to think the UK will not bite. For example, if the UK is far behind the EU in product standards, it will probably face the heavy carbon border tax that the EU Commission is working on to put it along the border. How will the UK export to the nearest large trade block? Now this is becoming a huge challenge, said James MacGregor, environmental economist at Ramboll, an engineering consulting firm.

Brexiteers did not show any special enthusiasm to withdraw from the EU environmental commitment. In particular, in January 2018, Cabinet Secretary and devout Brexiter Michael Gove argued in a statement to Politico that the UK required all of its existing European environmental laws to affect UK law.

It’s still too early to say, but the UK, putting its global image on the ambitious climate agenda after Brexit, will hate to lack. It’s not the climate itself, but its reputation depends on it.

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