Polluted rivers, harmful pesticides, back-tracking on net zero targets – welcome to post-Brexit Britain where to put it frankly, we’re in the middle of a metaphorical and literal shit show.
Before Brexit, the government repeatedly promised that our environmental standards wouldn’t slip when we left the EU. That just wasn’t true. As a Green Party MP, it breaks my heart to see protections for our environment, and our ambition to tackle climate change, fall far behind our neighbours in Europe in the space of just a few years.
The EU is overachieving on their target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. Meanwhile, here the UK the government has flip-flopped on its petrol car ban and it’s been left to the House of Lords to protect EU-era “nutrient neutrality rules” that stopped housing developers dump sewage into our rivers.
It is clear. Brexit has opened the door to weaker protections than those we benefitted from when upholding EU environmental laws.
Now, I’m not going to pretend the EU is perfect when it comes to climate policy. Nowhere is doing enough to tackle the climate crisis that’s unfolding around us. But the EU is still doing better than the UK in many aspects.
Brexit has meant that, instead of trading with Europe, we’ve sought out trade deals further afield that come with greater environmental costs than doing business with our closest neighbours.
Brexit has also been bad news for the state of our rivers and seas. Without strict and ambitious EU environmental regulations, the sewage in our bathing waters has become a national scandal.
But most importantly, Brexit has excluded us from being a team leader in Europe when it comes to protecting our environment. As much as the Brexiters want us to ‘take back control’ and ‘go it alone’, I can tell you that - by definition - tackling the nature and climate emergencies is a team effort.
That’s why it’s so urgent that we undo the damage caused by Brexit and campaign for a new and closer relationship with the EU. We need to get back round the table with the adults!
The UK used to be known as the ‘dirty man of Europe’. Joining the EEC in 1973 allowed us to clean up our act. But now we’re heading backwards again.
Join the European Movement today, for our planet and our shared future!
Vice President of European Movement UK