Leaked documents obtained by Greenpeace’s Energydesk reveal that the UK Government lobbied the European Union to weaken its own energy regulations on the very same day that UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, the country’s ‘Brexit’ out of the EU.
According to the leaked documents obtained by Energydesk, UK Ministers, part of the British delegation that is formally part of the Department for Exiting the EU, attempted to weaken rules and regulations set out by the EU for energy efficiency and renewable energy governance. Further problematic is that the head of the delegation is Secretary of State David Davis, a long-time climate skeptic with a long and vociferous record of opposing renewable energy and voting against UK climate policy. That Davis is so obviously moving to mitigate the effect of the EU regulations — regulations, mind you, that don’t even come into effect until after Britain will have left the EU — raises concerns that the UK will not carry strict and enforceable climate and energy rules into its own laws.
Specifically, the UK provided a series of ‘amendments’ it recommends be made to EU regulations that only serve to reduce key renewable energy and energy efficiency targets proposed by the European Commission, make them non-binding and give Member States a lot more leeway to wiggle, or even scrap them altogether (in some cases).
“This smells of obstructionism,” Jonathan Gaventa, director of environmental think-tank E3G, told Energydesk. “The UK is pissing off countries it needs as allies.”
“The government is trying to lock the rest of the EU into weaker energy policies, just as we are leaving,” added Hannah Martin, Greenpeace UK’s Head of energy.
“The message ministers seem to be sending is that Brexit could trigger a race to the bottom and be used as cover for getting rid of key environmental safeguards. Cutting energy waste and boosting some of the cheapest power sources like wind and solar is crucial to keep bills under control and slash carbon emissions. The UK public, including most Conservative voters, don’t want a dirty Brexit. Theresa May should resist any attempts to hamper Britain’s progress towards a clean, affordable energy future and its promise of lasting jobs and economic growth.”
The leaked documents (which can be found here) are essentially annotated EU regulations, with notes from the UK delegation to water down the efficacy of the regulations. Reading through all the documents sees repeated attempts to simply castrate the laws to make them more palatable to the UK, a country which has already shown its growing lack of concern about strong and binding targets.