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Article 50 and its impact on climate and environmental policies

Following Article 50 being triggered, the UK will have to adhere to the European Union’s environmental and climate change-related policy if it is to have any future agreement with the trading bloc.

Analysis has shown that the EU ‘enabling policy’ for road transport is responsible for nearly 90% of the policy-driven reductions in CO2 emissions from the sector which are planned to be achieved by 2030.

A draft motion for a resolution from the European Parliament said that “any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is conditional on the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards provided by the Union’s legislation and policies, in among others the fields of environment, climate change…”

Emissions from transport could be reduced to more than 60% below 1990 levels by 2050. In the short term, most progress can be found in petrol and diesel engines that could still be made more fuel-efficient.

In the mid- to long-term, plug-in hybrid and electric cars will allow for steeper emissions reductions.

Biofuels will be increasingly used in aviation and road haulage, as not all heavy goods vehicles will run on electricity in future.

Commenting on the triggering of Article 50, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “The triggering of Article 50 will start a process that could change the face of Britain for generations to come. This change won’t be for the better if we lose the world-class environmental safeguards that four decades of EU membership have given us.

“Whether it’s about stopping air pollution, protecting our wildlife or banning dangerous chemicals, many of the environmental protections we all take for granted are rooted in EU law. Ministers must ensure that the process of transferring these rules over into UK law doesn’t weaken them.

“Our health and our environment deserve just as much protection as those of our European neighbours. But that won’t happen if ministers use the Great Repeal Bill to give themselves the power to change environmental legislation without a parliamentary vote. The fate of these vital safeguards should not be left hostage to the whims of the government of the day.

“And since fish, air pollution and climate change don’t form an orderly queue at national borders, we must keep cooperating with the rest of Europe on the environmental challenges that affect us all.

“As Britain takes its seat at the Brexit poker table, our environmental laws should not be bargaining chips but money safe in the bank. Without them, Theresa May’s promise of leaving a healthier environment to the next generation is doomed to fail.”

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