The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU sent shock waves around the world. The decision to leave the EU has strong implications, but these implications are yet to be understood. It could impact the economy, society and of course, the environment. In regards to the environment, we can at least ask - what are the implications for the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets? Does it hinder or help the EU's route to sustainability?
To provide some background, the European Union, which composed of 28 members at the time of writing, has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20%, below 1990 levels, by 2020. There is an additional target for 2030, which is a more stringent 40% reduction. The uncertainty around the UK’s future role in the EU has led us to ask, what is the Brexit effect upon these targets?
EU GHG Emissions by Country
In regards to reduced emissions, in 2014 the UK emitted 524 million tonnes of CO2e, which is a significant reduction of 34.3%. This is well ahead of the EU’s 20% reduction target by 2020. Maybe the UK’s reduction will be missed after all. Let’s investigate further…
EU GHG Emission Reduction by Country
It’s interesting to note the large gap to the third largest emission reduction in the EU, which was Romania. Romania reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 142 million tonnes CO2e. A significant number and represents an impressive 56% reduction over the 1990 baseline for Romania.
This still leaves the question of how does Brexit effect the EU’s GHG emission reduction targets. Will the removal of the UK from the EU targets be beneficial for the carbon reduction efforts, or will it leave a reduction shortfall? Perhaps the other 27 EU countries will suddenly have more work to do.
Brexit Effect: The EU Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets
The effect of Brexit upon the EU emission reduction targets is a 1.6% reduction in the emission improvements. This is a notable amount. However, with the EU 28 minus the UK already on a 22.8% CO2e reduction, it is unlikely to make any notable difference to the EU’s ability to achieve the 2020, and possibly the 2030, emission reduction targets.
What do you think?
Data Source Reference: EEA, 2016. Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2014 and inventory report 2016 - Submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat, European Environment Agency (EEA), 17 June 2016.
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