UK Makes Sneaky Push to Weaken EU Paris Efforts Ahead of Brexit
With one foot out the Brexit door, the UK is secretly trying to weaken EU commitments to the Paris agreement in a move branded "rude" by one member of European parliament (MEP), The Guardian reported Wednesday.
The EU is currently set to reduce its energy use by 20 percent by making improvements to energy efficiency and buildings. The targets cover the years 2014 to 2020, but the UK is lobbying to be allowed to count efficiency improvements made from 2010, and to carry over any improvements made over the target to count towards post-2020 commitments.
The plan was confirmed by leaked documents viewed by The Guardian.
Vice chair of the European parliament's environment committee Benedek Jávor did not mince words in criticizing the UK's proposal.
"This approach would risk failure in our efforts to reach even moderately ambitious overall targets, while the higher—and beneficial targets—that we need to strive for could become lost altogether," Jávor said. He further called it "rude" for the country to try and weaken regulations it would only be beholden to until it formally leaves the EU when Brexit goes into effect.
The revelation also raises concerns about the UK's commitment to fighting climate change in a post-Brexit world.
Unlike their counterparts in the U.S., UK conservatives currently in power have rhetorically embraced global environmental action.
In a speech reported by The Guardian at the UN last September, conservative Prime Minister Theresa May spoke out against President Donald Trump's plans to leave the Paris agreement, for example.
The UK has also emerged as a leader in the global fight against ocean plastics this year, announcing in April a plan to end the sale of single-use plastics like straws and drink stirrers.
But some are concerned that the government's actions won't match its words, and this move confirms those fears.
"This sneaky, behind-the-scenes amendment indicates a government that likes to pretend it is a global leader but will not take the strong policy action needed to deliver the necessary change," shadow international trade and climate spokesman Barry Gardiner told The Guardian.
Likewise, Liberal-Democratic MEP Catherine Bearder told The Guardian it "gave the lie" to the "green revolution" promised by Brexit supporter and UK environment secretary Michael Gove.
These concerns were further supported by a recent risk analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth that found that Brexit is likely to weaken UK environmental regulations. The analysis found that a 25-year environment plan launched by May and touted by Gove was vague and less ambitious than current EU law.