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IEMA survey backs EU membership

An Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) survey  of environment and sustainability professionals has revealed that most think that the UK’s membership of the European Union is positive for business and has benefitted from EU environment and climate policy.

The online poll garnered the views of over 1500 professionals on various aspects of UK/EU environmental policy. 78% of respondents felt that the UK played an influential role in the development of EU environment and climate policy, while 82% believed that EU membership gives the UK more clout on the international stage and able to exercise its influence on environmental issues by working with the other member states.

A huge majority of IEMA members (82%) concurred that EU membership gave a more effective, stable political landscape both for businesses and the environment over the medium to longer term.

In total, 70% said they feel that the UK voting to leave the EU would have a negative effect on their organisation; 10% a positive effect and 20% no effect.

When examining the impact on the environment and sustainability profession overall 74% felt it would have a negative effect, 7% positive and 19% no overall effect.

IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter said today: “Environment and sustainability professionals frequently cite policy certainty as being a key enabler of investment for long term improvement programmes. Whichever way the vote goes, it is crucial to maintain long-term policy stability and continuity in the areas of environment and climate change”.

The survey also looked at the how the UK could best achieve its long-term climate change targets. Over half (57%) of IEMA members thought that the UK was more likely to hit its long-term carbon emission targets as a member of the EU; 29% thought membership wouldn’t affect its chances and 14% felt that the UK could achieve them independently.

The UK set itself a 2050 target to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 80% in comparison with 1990 levels, with a legally binding target of a 35% emissions cut by 2020, as part of the Climate Change Act 2008.

The European Union also agreed a legally binding objective that at least 20% of the EU’s total energy requirements would come from renewables by 2020; the UK’s national target is 15% renewable energy by 2020.

The survey asked its members to consider the UK carbon and EU renewable energy 2020 targets:

45% said that the renewable energy target is consistent with, and contributory to, the UK achieving its 2020 GHG emissions reduction target in a cost effective way

40% think UK implementation of the renewable energy target could be achieved more cost effectively that current policy is delivering, and is therefore making achievement of the 2020 GHG target more expensive than it needed to be.

15% think that the renewable energy target imposes additional unnecessary costs; there are cheaper ways for the UK to achieve its 2020 GHG emissions target.

Environment and sustainability professionals were asked to consider the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). This scheme carries out the requirements of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive aimed at helping larger businesses to cut energy consumption, costs and emissions.

Members with experience of ESOS responded:

  • 19% led to cost effective energy savings that would not have been achieved without ESOS.
  • 50% gave information on where cost-effective energy savings can be made, but which have yet to be implemented.
  • 31% required energy audits and reviews being undertaken that have not highlighted opportunities for cost-effective energy savings.