We have had talk of ‘Hard Brexit’ and ‘Soft Brexit’, but where is the talk of a ‘Moral Brexit’? The discovery of up until now unpublished guidance to our embassies’ gives us some clues into how our leaders are thinking.
Some on the left supported Brexit because it promised to offer us an opportunity for real reform; they maybe saw the EU as a ‘top down dogmatic project of endless industrial growth’. The energy cognoscenti are grieving at the UK leaving the EU – we were seen as a force for change against some more climate change denying States.
But surely as we begin to negotiate new deals across the world we should be advocating trade deals from our environmental strengths, especially when, in these times of austerity, we can offer a huge brain print in sustainable world thinking – after all, the UK has been leading the way on green growth. Many Innovate UK funds appear to be addressing environmental challenges of pollution busting, development of electric vehicles and Smart Grid technology.
This puts me in mind of how it feels each time we enter a new financial low – this time let’s learn to do it smarter and greener. It is beginning to feel like an odd uber mantra that no one is able to hear – let alone act on. But what sort of things are in your Brexit wish list? Here are some of mine:
New environmental limits and standards :-
- We could tie ourselves into the World Health Organisation pollution limits for PM10 – rather than the less stringent EU limit, or
- Ask the likes of Schweppes or similar drinks manufacturers to reuse their bottles, or
- Require that our car manufacturers meet US standards in vehicles (don’t forget VolksWagendiesel gate started in the States). With these new standards we really could be working with China and India who are keen on new technology, or
- Work with Commonwealth colleagues on trade deals that eliminate trade in rare or endangered species .
Fiscal incentives :-
- We are now at liberty to apply our own environmental empowering fiscal incentives. We were, were we not, informed that VAT had to be levied on energy savings equipment because of EU rules?
- A carrier tax – we had the carrier bag tax, now since there is no such thing as a free delivery, could we not have a hypothecated carrier delivery tax (which could help eliminate ‘Gig’ delivery)
- Red diesel consultation – red diesel should now go back to what it was originally intended for (in agriculture) and should not be used for non vehicular use such as unregulated generators or cooling devices. Now is the time for this to be changed in order to have only clean fuels and clean machinery in our city centres.
- In the vacuum of the EU commission – who is going to enforce regulations? Are our fishermen really going to simply fish until there are no fish? How are our Clean Air Zones going to be enforced? This is a big ask I know – we really do need to have a dramatically enhanced Environment Agency?
Sadly, we aren’t living in a parallel universe; we have a seriously uphill struggle in the light of Foreign Office instructions reportedly making it easier for us to do deals with Africa and Latin America by scaling down work on climate change and illegal wildlife trade. This is a reminder that we do need to collaborate and triple our efforts to keep environmental action in the ‘let’s think of the long term future into the debate. Meanwhile it doesn’t look like rain anytime soon! So let’s get busy putting our drought action heads together, whatever our government will need rain.