There is a deep-rooted connection between UK climate science deniers and those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union.
On 23 June 2016 the UK will vote in the EU referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the European Union. The 'Brexit' vote comes after Prime Minister David Cameron promised in his 2015 Conservative Party election manifesto to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU before the end of 2017.
Since then, the link between climate science deniers and Eurosceptics has become more pronounced. In February 2016, it was revealed that Lord Lawson's climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation had moved its headquarters into the same building as Brexit campaign groups 'Business for Britain' and 'Vote Leave', along with a slew of other right wing organisations including the TaxPayers' Alliance.
The Brexit-climate denier overlap stems from a common neoliberal ideology that fears top-down state interventions and regulations which are perceived as threatening values of individual freedom, economic (market) freedom, or the sovereignty of national governments. Under this logic, we must reject both the European Union and most climate policy.
And the influence of this small group extends beyond the walls of their 55 Tufton Street address - just a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament - to include prominent politicians and traditional British media outlets. It begs the question: If the climate-euro sceptic bubble is successful on Brexit, what will then happen to British climate change policy?
LATEST NEWS ON BREXIT CLIMATE DENIERS
On June 23 2016, 46 million voters merrily skipped to the polls to have their say about whether the UK should remain in the European Union. Early the following morning, it was revealed that 52 percent of the population had voted Leave.
Most were shocked, a small majority were joyous, the rest were dismayed — including many who were concerned Brexit would mean the UK’s climate policy and environmental regulation coming under attack.
One year on, the negotiations have formally started and things have progressed… a bit.
“My government will continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris agreement.”
So said the Queen during her speech today introducing the start of the parliamentary year and the list of bills the government hopes to pass over the next 12 months.
Along with a brief note on affordable energy and electric cars, this was the only mention of anything related to climate change or the environment in the brief speech.
Despite dangerous air pollution levels across the UK and crucial environmental laws that need to be translated into British legislation as we leave the EU, the environment was notably missing as a policy priority.
How do you squeeze environmental issues into an election campaign dominated by Brexit? Perhaps by making Brexit about environmental issues.
That’s what Labour’s shadow trade minister Barry Gardiner did Tuesday night, accusing the Conservatives of using Brexit as a “vehicle for deregulation”, and putting the UK’s environment at risk as a consequence.
Gardiner was speaking at the Greener UK hustings, organised by a wide-ranging coalition of environmental NGOs held at London’s Royal Society on 30 May. His comments were directed at the Conservatives’ representative on the panel, environment minister Thérèse Coffey.
The UK and EU will have much to discuss when it comes to country's future participation in the regional energy market. Strong cooperation makes sense for both sides, argues Antony Froggatt, senior research fellow for Chatham House, and co-author of a new report on energy policy after Brexit.
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) after 43 years of membership will fundamentally reshape the UK’s relations with the EU27, and negotiations are likely to be lengthy and complex. However, energy policy is one area where it may be politically easier to find common ground.
Given the amount of existing energy trade between the UK and the EU, particularly for electricity, and further plans for decarbonisation and more interconnection across the European continent, it would be unrealistic to remove the UK completely from the EU energy market. If successful, a strong UK-EU27 energy cooperation could pave the way for a new partnership model for the EU, the UK and their neighbours.
The Brexit climate science deniers have over the weekend launched a coordinated attempt to persuade the UK to cut green regulations ahead of Theresa May revealing the Conservative Party’s 2017 general election manifesto.
In op-ed columns and letters to the editor in both The Times and The Telegraph members of climate science denying and neoliberal think tanks have criticised the UK Climate Change Act for increasing energy prices and called for looser regulations once we leave the European Union.
Consumers are likely to pay the price for the UK leaving the EU’s internal energy market, experts warned on Wednesday.
Brexit has opened the door to huge uncertainties over the security of the UK’s energy supply, with details of a final deal dependent on political will on both sides of the divide, they said.
Theresa May triggered Article 50 to officially start the UK’s divorce from the EU at the end of last month, yet the future of key policy areas seems as hazy now as it was before the referendum took place.
It’s very hard to know exactly how much Brexit will cost the UK — it depends on what kind of trade deal and exemptions the government manages to negotiate with the EU.
But when it comes to energy and the environment a few estimates have emerged since the referendum with numbers attached, and all of them are pretty big.
If these estimates are added up, it appears that since 2000 the UK has received around £40 billion from the European Union in funding and loans which have been put towards various energy projects, smart meters, and scientific research. The UK has also received an annual £52 million towards the world’s largest nuclear fusion project.
Questions about how the UK will set new environmental standards and effectively enforce these rules once the country leaves the European Union were raised this week by Lords on all sides of the House.
The House of Lords debated on Thursday 23 March the EU Select Committee report on Brexit and climate change. The Committee found there was little confidence in the UK government’s ability to hold itself to account without an independent domestic enforcement mechanism being set up.
The Committee was told that “there was a risk of legislation becoming ‘zombie legislation’,” said Baroness Sheehan of the Liberal Democrats, by “either [being] no longer enforced or no longer updated to the latest scientific understanding.”
Many of the MPs who signed the letter issued this week criticising the BBC’s Brexit coverage as biased to the Remain campaign are part of a small but influential network of hardline Euro-climate sceptics.
An analysis of the 70 signatories of the complaint letter urging the BBC to “accept new facts” on Brexit shows 12 are part of the 55 Tufton Street climate denier network. A further six MPs have consistently voted against climate measures in Parliament.
This includes Conservatives Owen Paterson and Steve Baker along with Labour’s Graham Stringer and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell. These four are linked to the Tufton Street network through either their membership to the Vote Leave campaign or association with Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Of these 18 individuals, 10 were also among 15 MPs that issued the anti-fifth carbon budget letter released last May which argued setting “radical” climate targets wouldn’t reduce Europe’s emissions because others in the EU would just do less.
The UK will continue to pursue its climate goals and retain European environmental regulations in its own laws when it exits the EU, according to a new government strategy document.
The plan goes some way to reassuring voters that Brexit will not be used as an excuse to roll back on the UK’s climate commitments. But the White Paper offers few details about how the government will meet its goals in practice.