UK Remains ‘Full Member’ of EU Climate Negotiating Team at COP22 in Marrakech Despite Brexit

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The UK’s position within the international community has become somewhat uncertain since its decision to leave the EU this summer. As long as the government continues to pursue its domestic climate agenda, EU officials say it will not be sidelined at the international talks currently ongoing in Marrakech, however.

The UK has traditionally been seen as a climate leader within the bloc. But since June’s referendum, the country’s climate policy has been in a state of flux.

It has delayed the release of a consultation on a promised coal phase-out, is yet to release its new plan to meet the UK’s emission reduction commitments, and hasn’t detailed how it will enshrine key goals from the Paris Agreement in UK law.

Despite these uncertainties, Gabriela Fischerova, Director General of the Directorate of Climate Change and Air Protection, told DeSmog UK:

“The UK is a full member of the European Union and it is considered as such. The UK is giving us full support from negotiations. I believe it is also fulfilling its commitments concerning climate change. What happens later on, we can’t speculate.”

Analysts warned against complacency, however.  

Richard Black from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: “Brexit won’t affect the UK government’s top-level approach to climate change – Theresa May gave that commitment to her MPs before she became leader, and any notion of fundamental changes such as scrapping the Climate Change Act wouldn’t get past those MPs. La-la-land politics.

However, the UK carbon budgets aren’t going to meet themselves – they need policies that actually cut emissions. There was a policy dearth even before David Cameron and George Osborne slashed many of the existing ones away; and as yet we have no idea what’s going to replace them.

“The danger is not some grand gesture that demolishes the UK’s commitments, but simply that the government sees the progress being made now and takes that as a measure of sufficient success, rather than establishing the policies now that will continue the successes years in the future.”
Main image credit: DeSmog UK via Flickr
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Mat was DeSmog's Special Projects and Investigations Editor, and Operations Director of DeSmog UK Ltd. He was DeSmog UK’s Editor from October 2017 to March 2021, having previously been an editor at Nature Climate Change and analyst at Carbon Brief.

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