By Victoria Seabrook • Wednesday, July 20, 2016 – 00:01
In the run up to the EU referendum, environmentalists issued gloomy warnings about the UK’s approach to tackling climate change should it choose to leave.
The days after the referendum saw a ruthless shake-up of the cabinet, with the new Prime Minister Theresa May scrapping the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), ousting major players and appointing new cabinet ministers to key departments including the Treasury, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the all-new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
But what climate change regulation will we have left once the dust has settled?
We Still Have The Climate Change Act
Before the referendum, some environmentalists warned the 2008 Climate Change Act (CCA) might be unpicked if Britain voted to leave the EU. The Act, at the forefront of our legislation, obliges the government to cut emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.
But the Act is unilateral rather than coming from the EU, and it looks set to remain in place.
David Powell of the think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF) says: “It is important to remember that the UK has a piece of law that requires it to lead the world in carbon reduction. Unpicking that would be an extraordinary fight that nobody has shown any significant appetite for doing.”
The fifth carbon budget – which fulfils the requirement under the Climate Change Act 2008 for the Government to set five-year carbon budgets – was passed in the House of Commons on Monday with no opposition. Once debated in the House of Lords, the order will set the fifth carbon budget in law at a 57 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.
On introduction of the order, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, Jesse Norman, said yesterday in the House of Commons: “Leaving the EU will bring challenges and opportunities to the United Kingdom. However, it does not change the fact that climate change remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security.”