Despite what we may think about what’s going on in the UK at the moment, with Brexit, the threat of terrorism, and difficulties around the world and with other stories dominating the news it can be easy to lose sight of some of the good things that are happening at the moment especially in regard to the environment. In this post, we shall explore the successes in renewable energy in the UK in the last few years and what post- Brexit Britain might look like in regard to the environment.
A quarter of global emissions are produced in the production of electricity. This highlights a real need to change the way in which we generate electricity, and the UK is making some real headway into tackling this issue. In 2014 the UK was at the forefront of wind energy deployment. It is thought that government policy change is the reason for this sudden change in favour of wind power. The UK is ideally placed for harnessing wind power, it has the best conditions for it in Europe, mainly that there are sufficient wind speeds. And in 2017 electricity being generated from renewable energy was at a record high in the UK.
Tidal Power in the UK also has massive scope, it is thought that the tides of the Severn Estuary alone could generate 5% of the UK’s electricity.
As it stands, approximately 1 million households in the UK have solar panels installed. Solar panels generated 95 MW in 2010, and this has grown to a whopping 11,429 MW in 2016 .
At the COP21 meeting in 2015, renewable energy accounted for 27% of Europe’s electricity production, again this success is mainly put down to ambitious policies set out by European countries. This of course begs the question, what on earth is the UK going to do once it leaves the EU?
Well luckily, leaving the EU will likely have little impact on the UK’s environmental policy, in fact, the UK’s own Climate Change Act holds us to far higher standards than the goals set out by the European Union.
However, a large amount of UK law is wrapped up in that of the EU’s, but there are two major routes we could take:
The Norwegian Model
This model would allow us to adopt EU environmental legislation, however, we wouldn’t have the same powers as we once did to influence their creation.
The Bilateral model
A bilateral model would mean that we would have to comply with EU law when we wanted to put products onto the EU market, however, we would be able to relax laws where we weren’t interacting with Europe. There is no evidence to suggest that we would do this, due to the fact that the UK was the main driver behind most of the EU laws.
Of course, the UK doing well and achieving its targets in renewable energy is by no means a reason to get complacent, if anything this should drive us even further forward, this is proof that it is possible to integrate renewable energy into our society.
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