The UK referendum vote on June 23, 2016, to leave the European Union has led the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee to ask questions as to how this will affect the "UK position with respect to existing EU pledges and policies, and its future interaction with the EU bloc to fight climate change." UK climate change policy to date has seen stand-alone national initiatives as well as collaborative international policies being adopted.
At the same time, and in light of the 2015 Paris Agreement
requirements, the European Commission is considering how the impact
of Brexit may lead to a revisiting of individual Member States
contributions to meet the EU's target of cutting emissions to
at least 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.
Until it formally ceases to be a member of the EU, which is not expected to happen for at least two years, and possibly no earlier than 2019, the United Kingdom continues to be bound by and must comply with applicable EU obligations. At a time when the United Kingdom's overall share of carbon allowances has not yet been agreed at the EU level for the purposes of the EU 2030 Paris Agreement commitment, it is notable that the United Kingdom has continued to set its own national budget. Shortly after the Brexit vote, the United Kingdom passed the Carbon Budget Order 2016 to adopt its fifth carbon budget. The budget (which is a legal requirement under the Climate Change Act 2008) sets a cap of 1.725 billion tons of CO2 equivalent for the period from 2028–32. This would limit UK annual emissions in this period to an average of 57 percent below 1990 levels. The cap excludes international maritime emissions from the domestic budget. What remains unclear is how the government will take steps to implement these goals, with measures to be set out at the end of this year. What is also unclear is what the United Kingdom's future role might be under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which will depend on negotiations surrounding Brexit.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.