UK’s Brexit election explained: ‘There will be one less pro-climate vote in the EU’

(EurActiv, 13 Dec 2019) As Germany’s leadership on climate fades out, Britain’s departure from the European Union could have “potentially huge” consequences for climate policy, says Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève is Co-President of The Club of Rome and Ambassador for Europe at the Energy Transition Commission. She spoke to EURACTIV’s energy and environment editor Frédéric Simon.

Brexit is now finally happening it seems after Boris Johnson’s election victory. What will be the consequences for Europe in terms of climate policy?

It could potentially be huge. The UK has always been a frontrunner on climate policy, for instance with the implementation of the Climate Act.

Also, if you look at the work that the UK Climate Commission has been doing, it filtered very much into the thinking of the European Commission under José Manuel Barroso, which started climate action at the EU level.

In terms of foreign policy, the UK also had experts and ambassadors who were promoting climate policy across Central and Eastern Europe. And this was fundamental in starting to bring those countries on board. It had an impact on starting the right conversation in those countries.

Do you think that role will stop with Brexit? After all, the British embassies in those countries won’t disappear after Brexit…

It’s already started to stop. Since the political focus in Britain has started to shift on Brexit, we’ve already started to see that this push in the different embassies has been eliminated. So it’s already started to have an impact.

The other impact of Brexit is within the European Council bringing together EU member states. There will be one less pro-climate vote in the Council, and I think that will really have an impact.

Traditionally, it’s always been the UK – with Germany – playing that progressive role. But Germany doesn’t really play that role anymore. And now with the UK leaving, we’ve lost two key allies in continuing Europe’s leadership in the fight against climate change.

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EurActiv, 13 Dec 2019: UK’s Brexit election explained: ‘There will be one less pro-climate vote in the EU’