Will the Green Economy Vote IN or OUT in Britain’s EU Referendum?

March 21, 2016

News is dominated by the referendum taking place on 23rd June when voters will decide whether Britain should remain in the European Union. The environment is an area in which UK and EU law are strongly entwined and the UK government and EU directives are certainly aligned. The majority of ‘green’ stakeholders agree that remaining in the EU is crucial for environmental progression.

Opinions from Parliament

Amber Rudd, Energy Secretary and Matthew Hancock, previous Energy Minister, both showed their support for the ‘IN’ campaign and for remaining in a reformed EU. Rudd states that a transformed EU would “make us stronger, safer and better off.”

Liz Truss, Environment Secretary, also showed support for David Cameron’s ‘IN’ campaign, focusing on the uncertain impacts an exit would have on global markets.

However, the Conservatives do not all agree with David Cameron. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom is clear in her decision to support a Brexit. Addressing her constituents in South Northamptonshire, Leadsom lists the share of global economic activity, issues with the Euro and the migration crisis as key foundations to her ‘OUT’ stance.

Opinions outside Parliament

Early views suggest that remaining in the EU will provide incomparable benefits for the green economy.

 Ben Stafford, head of public affairs, WWF states that it is vital the outcome of the referendum does not negatively impact environmental progression made in tandem with the EU: “Research commissioned by WWF and others suggests that, on balance, Britain’s membership of the EU has delivered benefits for our environment that would be hard to replicate in the event of the UK leaving.  So whatever decision is made, it is vital that it doesn’t come at the expense of thriving wildlife, clean air and water, strong action on climate change and growing green businesses.”

Martin Harper, director of conservation, RSPB shares the view that the EU brings benefits to environmental challenges, but acknowledges that reforms are needed:

“The outcome of the referendum on EU membership could have significant implications for the RSPB’s ability to fulfil its charitable objectives.

“Given that nature knows no boundaries – for example, birds migrate – the RSPB has always believed we need to act internationally especially as the threats – such as pollution – are often diffuse. Comprehensive international agreements for nature conservation and the environment are therefore essential.

“Evidence suggests that the EU has had a positive impact through some of its environment policies. However, there are also areas where we have concerns or feel more needs to be done. We recognise that very few issues are entirely clear-cut. However, we all want to see clean air and water for future generations, as well as an attractive countryside rich in wildlife.

“As both sides seek to clarify and present their respective visions for the future, the RSPB will challenge both the ‘IN’ and ‘OUT’ campaigns to explain how their stance will help protect and enhance the environment.  Through this ‘referendum challenge’ process, we hope to help RSPB supporters and the wider public to gain greater clarity about the environmental implications of the UK remaining in or leaving the EU and to ensure that nature features in the public debate.”

For all you need to know about the EU referendum, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887.