Are renewable energy options on the back burner?
With only two months to go till the proposed triggering of Article 50, would it fair to say that climate change and environmentally friendly energy solutions are being overlooked? The last week hasn’t been a good one for the state of our pale blue dot. Firstly, America has a president whose contempt for the environment appears visible from outer space. With the United States having the second highest emissions levels after China, the potential sacking of climate change scientists and budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency would potentially have a far reaching impact on global emissions.
Our Prime Minister met Trump at the White House, trying (we think) to engineer a trade deal, while over on the Fylde Coast, we have seen the first vehicles getting ready to start test drills on Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. With Prime Minister, Theresa May hoping to get Article 50 triggered by the end of March, where could we be going in 2017 and beyond?
Brexit and environmental standards
Many improvements in environmental standards have been driven the EU. In the large part, it is anticipated that EU benchmarks for environmental standards will remain part of the UK’s Stature Books. The Great Repeal Bill will incorporate elements of the EU’s directives, and will convert these requirements in to British Law. This will see the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972. In spite of the reassurances proposed in the forthcoming bill, any subsequent amendments post Brexit are subject to change and Parliament will have the power to retain some directives and scrap others.
With the uncertainty of Brexit, banks have considered moving to other EU Member States with France and the Republic of Ireland favoured bases. Nissan is in limbo over continued UK investment. IKEA, whom we have covered in a previous post, isn’t sure about its continued expansion into renewable energy. Standing between the furniture giant’s £524 million green energy fund is the Government’s approach to environmentally friendly energy sources. On The Huffington Post website, Joanna Yarrow, IKEA UK’s Head of Sustainability said: “the UK’s ‘political context’ does not encourage investment in renewables.” She also added that:
“I would say that over the last five or six years it has become increasingly difficult to invest in renewable energy production in the UK, and that for a large organisation like IKEA which has the resources to invest, it would be great for the UK to benefit from it.”
Brexit or no Brexit, if you have looked at energy related stories over the last six months, there seems to have been more column inches devoted to Hinkley Point’s forthcoming multi-billion pound nuclear reactor. Or hydraulic fracturing in Kirby Misperton and Preston New Road.
With Britain yet to decide on which of the EU Directives it will maintain, canwe trust the government to retain, all the environmental benefits we have gained from EU membership? Will our beaches still be clean? Will there still be incentives driving the renewable energy sector? While the UK is by no means the highest generator of renewable energy across Europe, we have seen a three fold increase in renewable energy generation from 2004-2014.
Will Brexit be seen as an opportunity to cement our future energy security through the mix of renewable energy solutions or will we revert to more controversial options.