It’s been a week since the British people voted for BrexitÂ in a national referendum. What does it mean for energy policy? Business as usual according to DECC ministers – here’s what they’ve been saying.
In the run-up to the referendum, Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (pictured right) campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU. Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom (pictured left) campaigned for Britain to leave.
Since the vote to leave, both have been eager to reassure investors and the public that a post-Brexit government will maintain its commitments on energy and climate change.
What Amber Rudd has had to say
At the Business and Climate Summit in London, Amber Rudd insisted that the UK will not “turn its back” on the global battle to mitigate climate change.
Addressing delegates at London’s Guildhall, she said:Â â€œThe decision to leave the EU is of historic significance.Â As a Government, we are fully committed to delivering the best outcome for the British people â€“ and that includes delivering the secure, affordable, clean energy our families and business need. The challenges to our environment remain the same. That commitment has not changed.
â€œThe decision raises a host of questions for the energy sector, of course it does. Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security.
â€œAnd the UK will not step back from that international leadership. We must not turn our back on Europe or the world. Our relationships with the United States, China, India, Japan and other European countries will stand us in strong stead as we deliver on the promises made in Paris. At the heart of that commitment is the Climate Change Act.â€
Rudd also used her appearance to preface an announcement about the 5th carbon budget which was outlined the following day on 30th June, and which establishes carbon reduction commitments of over 54%.
She said the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will still go ahead, and re-stated plans to phase-out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025.
What Andrea Leadsom has had to say
Speaking before the Energy and Climate Change select committee in Parliament on 29th June, the Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom told fellow MPs:Â â€œIn my view, as I was clear all the way through the [referendum] campaign, for energy policy I donâ€™t believe anything will change.
â€œI think that the UKâ€™s Climate Change Act of 2008 is absolutely key to our climate change objectives. We continue to be absolutely committed to those.â€
She also said the governmentâ€™s commitment to cooperating with others to tackle the issue remains as strong as ever, adding: â€œOf course we never were just working with the EU.â€
She has since announced that she is to stand for the Conservative Party leadership in a bid to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister.
Industry figures and NGOs have broadly welcomed the positive commitment to continued climate and low-carbon energy leadership.
Aldersgate Groupâ€™s executive director Nick Molho, the former head of energy and climate at the environmental charity WWF, said: â€œComing a few days after the outcome of the EU referendum, it isÂ positiveÂ to hear Amber Rudd highlight the importance of continuing to tackleÂ climate change. As shown by the 195 countries that adopted the ParisÂ AgreementÂ in December, climate change is an issue that is of major concern to leadersÂ around the world.â€
Over at the Carbon Brief blog, it’s claimed that there are still 94 unanswered questionsÂ for climate and energy policy.
Commenting on the impacts of the Leave vote more broadly, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, Jonathan Grant, has expressedÂ concern over the future of the UKâ€™s carbon agenda. â€œThe outcome [of Brexit] is a major setback for the type of collaboration needed to tackle global environmental issues like climate change.
â€œThe UK government has been a champion of climate action at home, within the EU, and in the Paris climate talks. However this leadership is at risk, with many supporters of Brexit also opposed to climate policies such as carbon taxes and efficiency standards. The immediate priority will be to provide reassurance to investors to avoid undermining the low carbon sector.â€
How do you think the Leave vote and Brexit will impact energy and climate policy in the UK? Let us know in the comments.