Why opposing a no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit is crucial for a clean energy future
Biofuelwatch briefing about the implications of a no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit for energy policy in the UK and Ireland
A no-deal Brexit would undermine any transition to low-carbon renewable energy and greater energy efficiency and conservation for several reasons:
- The UK would leave EU’s Internal Energy Market. Smooth and affordable electricity trading is vital for an expansion of solar and wind power. As shown in the briefing, this would undermine efforts to reduce reliance on high-carbon energy sources in Ireland, too;
- Energy prices would rise, which would create strong political pressure to support the cheapest energy sources and investments, regardless of climate and other adverse impacts. Higher energy prices can be expected to reduce UK energy use, but at the cost of spiralling fuel poverty;
- In the absence of an agreement with the EU, all access to new EU funds will be lost, including low-interest loans from the European Investment Bank. This will make it far harder to raise funds for new offshore wind or tidal projects;
- The interest groups actively promoting a no-deal Brexit are seeking far-reaching trade agreements with the US and other countries based on sweeping deregulation, i.e. a race to the bottom as far as environmental and climate standards are concerned (as well as public health, food safety, etc.). Regardless of which government was in power during or after a no-deal Brexit, it would be under great pressure to sign any trade agreement on offer, given that the UK would find itself the only country (with the apparent exception of Mauritania) to be trading solely under World Trade Organisation rules.
All of those factors combined favour long-term and likely increased reliance on fossil fuels. Furthermore, the rush to new trade agreements will lead to the dismantlement of existing regulations and a block on new ones, including any regulations which still stand in the way of dirty energy schemes, be it big biomass, waste incineration or fracking.