UK To ‘Scale Down’ Climate Change For Post-Brexit Deals

The Sunday Times, 9 April 2017

Tim Shipman, Political editor

Government papers reveal plan to tone down stance on environment in bid to win deals with Latin America and Africa

Civil service documents, photographed on a train, reveal that Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change and the trade in illegal wildlife to clear the way for post-Brexit trade deals.

Details of the policy change were contained in the papers of a senior civil servant at the Department for International Trade (DIT) photographed by a passenger earlier this month.

They include the speech notes of Tim Hitchens, the director-general of economic and consular affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The notes show he will tell diplomats and trade negotiators that they need to change their focus if the UK is to fulfil Theresa May’s vision of Britain as “a great, global trading nation”.

“You have a crucial role to play in posts in implementing our new approach to prosperity against the huge changes stemming from last year’s Brexit vote,” the notes say.

“Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts — you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.”

Hitchens was unavailable for comment but Whitehall sources said the change of emphasis will make it easier to sign trade deals with countries in Latin America and Africa. At the moment, trade and aid arrangements with these countries can get bogged down with clauses that put environmental protections ahead of economic prosperity.

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2) UK Looking To Renege On Climate Goals Post-Brexit – Reports

PV Magazine, 6 April 2017

The British government is assessing ways to scrap pledges made to hit 2020 clean energy targets without incurring any penalties, reports Bloomberg, in a first sign of the country reneging on mandatory environmental action made under EU membership.

British PM Theresa May signed Article 50 on March 29, thereby formally beginning the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. photo: Number 10/Flickr

The U.K.’s treasury and business department is seeking ways to scrap the country’s binding EU target of sourcing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, reports Bloomberg.

Citing an anonymous individual with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg says that officials are hopeful that a post-Brexit Britain can avoid the fines and penalties associated with missing its EU target if they can find ways to abandon the goal – a goal that the country is unlikely to hit either way.

Fines could run into the tens of millions, and officials believe that rather than fall short and face the penalty, the far easier option for Brexit Britain is to take its foot off the clean energy accelerator, rather than press ahead with scaling up investment in wind and solar power.

If the U.K. is successful in wriggling out of its obligations, it would be another tangible sign that the country is increasingly out of step with the majority of mainland Europe.

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68 thoughts on “UK To ‘Scale Down’ Climate Change For Post-Brexit Deals

  1. ..Ummm, if the U.K. is no longer part of the E.U., then any ” obligations” are nullified….

    • Depends on if we really leave. A half in half out fudge is beginning to emerge where we officially leave the EU but tie ourselves to all their regulations in order to continue to trade. That would include environmental regulations. This could then evolve into associate membership so all the effort of winning the referendum comes to nothing much. And if that is not how it works out, the EU will insist on climate change being part of any trade deal. Early days yet as there are still many months to go.

      • Gerry, you know full well that Theresa May will have to get a good deal before then going on to the next election. Do you really think that, just prior to an election, she will walk out with anything that could do her harm at the polling stations? Personally, I think she should call their bluff and threaten to walk away with no deal at all. They don’t get our money, and we revert to WTO rules – deal done! It’s win-win for UK. Then we get to choose any regulations we want!

  2. … Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change and the trade in illegal wildlife …

    One pro & one con …

    • Found on a Southern Rail train, company is so badly run, delays are measured in months not minutes. The last October’s Brighton (50 miles away) trains are just arriving into London Victoria /src

      • Vukcevic
        Only just /Sarc.
        They came in to London Bridge in February. Survivors denied suggestions of cannibalism. Mostly.

        Auto – also an stressed and frustrated [sometime] commuter on Southern Railways.
        And well aware that many of the delays are related to infrastructure problems [Not Southern] or the unions’ short-sighted insistence on guards opening and closing doors on the 60% of Southern trains where the driver has not done that for a decade or more . . . . . . . . .

    • The casual and apparently innocent exposure of documents to a camera seems to be the newest way of leaking policy to the outside world. No doubt a concerned “revolving door” NGO/civil servant was so horrified at the prospect of walking away from the climate change policies, that he/she wanted to get it out in the media, so his/her buddies could mount a campaign.

  3. another tangible sign that the country is increasingly out of step with the majority of mainland Europe

    I am taking it that “majority of mainland Europe” means the EU.
    And “tangible sign” means something the author can assign unambiguous meaning to.

    I guess Brexit was too ambiguous for the author.
    Perhaps the author did not understand the significance of the PM signing Article 50.

    The author is still looking for that one vital clue that will indicate the future direction of the UK.
    Fascinating how deep delusion can run.

  4. If the U.K. is successful in wriggling out of its obligations, it would be another tangible sign that the country is increasingly out of step with the majority of mainland Europe.

    No it wouldn’t. The UK is already far more strict on reducing CO₀ emissions than most of the remaining EU countries. One sensible clause that was built into the climate change act, was the ability to reduce our commitments if they turned out to be more onerous than those made by our competitors. We should just invoke that clause and stop trying to be leaders in the race towards economic ruin.

  5. Yet another good reason for us to leave the EU. We don’t want to be hamstrung by high energy costs, energy unreliability and the resultant need to import expensive electricity from French nuclear power stations when we are trying to negotiate new trade deals.

  6. What makes “wildlife” “illegal”?? Could that mean “illegal trade in wildlife”, which means Brits telling Africans how to manage their natural resources?

  7. Repealing the Climate Change Act would be start.
    “The biggest act of national self-harm ever” according to one of May’s advisers. But then that was before she became PM!

  8. it is hard to tell what Teresa May will do. Most of the US press that covers the UK is sympathetic to the former Labour government, but what I have seen of her on CSpan seems promising. Silly political notions do eventually burn out, but not without causing damage while prevalent.

  9. I wonder how serious any penalties would have been. A country like Greece is not likely to meet its climate targets within this timeframe, and will they face millions of euros in punishments? I doubt it. Anyway, this is peanuts compared to the costs of damaging one’s business society in order to become “green”.

  10. Interesting exercise in hypocrisy coming as Germany and France are likely to try and punish Britain if we do not maintain our ruinous energy policies while Germany is returning to burning lignite/brown coal as fast as it can to hide the uselessness of unpredictable renewables. At the same time they seek to pressurise the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians because they want to use their coal to keep the lights on. Staggering double standards.
    What I don’t get is why Britain doesn’t just go over the heads of Brussels and launch a formal invitation to European countries to join a new partnership based on trade only. Chances are given the increasing arrogance of the EU this would be tempting to all the countries Germany’s economic imperialism has blight.

    • Give it time, there are already rumblings of just such a club – Norway first, obviously, but even Ireland could be tempted, since most of their exports are to the UK. The Scandinavian countries would also be likely candidates for inclusion. The EU would implode. Bring it on.

    • @MarkW No, community and government efforts can effect recovery of endangered species. The Chatham Island Robin (its successful recovery depended on just one female), all the kiwi species, the yellow eyed penguin, the blue duck and many more have been dragged back from the edge of extinction by national, not commercial, action. Sometimes economists get too precious.

  11. Moderately Cross of East Anglia
    April 10, 2017 at 10:09 am
    “”What I don’t get is why Britain doesn’t just go over the heads of Brussels and launch a formal invitation to European countries to join a new partnership based on trade only. “”

    We could call it the British Empire.

      • Seeing as the Commonwealth already exists, all that needs to be added is a democratic mechanism for representation on the ‘ruling council’. Call it what you like, countries that band together to create a bloc can do so democratically, and don’t have to follow the Eurocrat model, nor the weak-kneed UN model. In the EU and UN don’t want to reform enough to provide everyone a voice that counts, freedom from war and want, there is no reason for other initiatives not to proceed.

  12. Brexit is the excuse – not the reason – for UK government slowly withdrawing from ‘green’ issues.

    The Tories gave the UK Ted Heath as Prime Minister (PM), and he was the worst PM since the Napoleonic Wars. Many (including me) thought it was not possible for there to be a worse PM than Heath, but one should never underestimate the Tories in such matters and they proved it was possible by providing David Cameron as PM.

    Cameron lacked any convictions and saw General Election success as being the totality of all that matters. So, he supported whatever seemed to be populist. When the Greens had some success he made the Tories ‘green’ (even adopting a tree as the Party logo), and when the UK Independence Party had some success he promised a referendum on EU Membership.

    ‘Green’ issues now don’t matter because the growing support for the ‘greens’ that Cameron feared has not happened. So, ‘green’ issues would have been quietly dumped whether or not Brexit happened and whether or not Cameron had remained as PM.

    Cameron’s populist policies almost lost the Union and required Gordon Brown (Labour ex-PM) to come out of retirement to stop Scotland leaving the UK. And, contrary to Cameron’s desire, his populist policies did result in Brexit.

    But Cameron had campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU and made no plans for what to do if the referendum resulted in Brexit. With no plans and no competence to deal with Brexit, Cameron resigned as soon as it happened.

    Teresa May became the replacement UK PM. Her priority had to be clearing up the mess left by Cameron. And by accepting the job of clearing up Cameron’s mess, PM May has accepted that she has two main priority objectives. These are negotiating the best deals for the UK post-Brexit, and stopping a break-up of the United Kingdom.


    • Don’t forget Wilson, Labour. Heath took the UK into the common market in 1973, without taking it to a vote. That was done later, and most voter agreed to stay. So in that regard, Heath was “a very naughty boy”, not because he was Tory, just because he was a poor PM, just like Blair and, IMO in particular, Brown.

      • climatereason and Patrick MJD:

        I would be interested to know any relevance of your replies to my comment on the subject of this thread.


        The idea that any PM was worse than Heath is ridiculous!

  13. Do note the UK will still switch off all coal power plants by 2025, that it is currently conducting another auction for building more renewables, that the National Grid is investing in grid storage and that the UK hit a new solar power record on Sunday (UK minimum summer electricity demand expected to go down another 2GW by 2020 as a result of continuing solar power installs). Oh, and we already reduced our CO2 output to 1894 levels thanks to previous coal switch offs.

    • Oh, and we already reduced our CO2 output to 1894 levels thanks to previous coal switch offs.

      Taking us back to the 19th Century. Oh, the marvels of the green mania!

    • Griff
      I guess these numbers ignore wood pellet burning just because it’s not coal.
      Solar numbers look good when much of it is newly installed. Give it a decade or two and the true reliability will not look so rosy.

      A future generation will probably view reduction of atmospheric CO2 as a kind of genocide.

  14. This “photographed on a train” thing smacks to me of a deliberate leak ahead of negotiations with the EU. The U.K. would be happy to have some extra, minor negotiating points that are more important to France and Belgium than they are to Britain. The EU countries are terrified of a dynamic, free trading Britain competing with their stultified, bureaucratic economies. Even Germany owes much of it’s success to a Euro that is kept cheap by the competitive incompetence of the other Euro countries

    • It could also be plain old fashioned carelessness.
      I remember a picture of Kissinger reading some classified papers during some international conference. The picture was taken from the press gallery.

  15. Britain has the fastest growing economy in the G7 and the fastest growing economy in the whole of Europe, beating even Germany. The EU is terrified of a UK free of the crazy club for two reasons: firstly for trade itself, but secondly because it will show other EU countries that they can be a success out of the crazy club. It’s slowly dawning on the nutters that run the crazy club that they should have seized any opportunity to change their track back in 2009. Britain will continue to be a success and the EU will implode around 2025. Tick…tick…tick.

    • What stops the other EU countries from cutting a deal with the UK that is better than the one they have now, and remaining in the EU? They want a voice, fine, but an EU veto for each member country is no way to get anything done. But pretending to give everyone a veto and then giving them almost no opportunity to have a say an anything much is next to useless. Maybe the UK will start up a club with a surprising range of international members. Why not? Create some sensible rules and proportional representation and the development of low income countries might be very much better.

    • And there is another reason. Germany, and to a lesser extent France will be left holding the loan and subsidy baby -rthe transfer of cash to other EU states – without the UK’s massive contribution.

  16. The damage that the Global warming scam has done to the cause of genuine environmentalism is beyond measure.
    “Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change and the trade in illegal wildlife”.

  17. I think we should be fair to the Greeks. German bankers were threatened that if they didn’t shift monthly targets of loans to Greeks they would lose their highly paid jobs. So Greece was flooded with insane offers for any daft scheme or purpose any Greek could think of, without any regard to the security of the purpose or loan. If some maniac with a suitcase of money offers to throw it at you without caring much about what you will do with it it is unsurprising you ,or any Greek ,wouldn’t take the money and run.
    Whose fault is that really? At least as much that of German monetary policy. My sympathy is with the Greeks who have been royalty screwed over by Germany and the EU bureaucrats who knew this was going to end badly and did nothing.
    If anyone cares to look at the German plan for re-ordering Europe economically after their expected victory in the first couple of weeks of the First World War it is curious just how similar it is to how the EU has turned out. Coincidence no doubt. Check out Fritz Fischer’s “Germany’s Aims in the First World War”.

    • I feel sorry for the Greeks (and others) in that the unspoken terms of joining monetary union were glossed over by their own politicians. In reality those terms were “Here is free EU money now, to compensate you for full exposure to the economics of German industrial efficiency. You have only a few years to change your economy to match that of Germany because the traditional option of devaluing your currency is now gone.”
      Greek politicians took the money and had a party, promising Greeks unsustainable state pensions as early as their fifties when they needed to be investing it.

  18. Mainland Europe will soon follow suit with beginning of defunding of climate craziness. Brexit preceded Trump’s arrival on the scene but the new policy has been ‘legitimized’ and emboldened by Trump’s explosion of good sense.
    Timid Brit’s who voted to hang on to what they thought was a teat and a safe place, will see UK take advantage of the world’s biggest natural market for itself with a shared language, traditions, innovativeness, institutions, free enterprise, and all the good things that seem odd to the rest of Europe, except Netherlands and Germany.

  19. Do the gallant Brexiteers, always looking for reason to stick the boot in to the EU on any pretext, know and understand that the trade in endangered species is an international agreement known as CITES? The EU may have additional regulation, but the primary agreement is outside the EU. Suggesting the EU is also responsible for climate legislation also overlooks various major international agreements on tackling climate change. It was this foolishness on blaming everything people did not like about political governance on the EU is what bedevilled the referendum and gave us an unreliable result.
    Ah well, too late now and we shall have to negotiate trade deals with Mr.Trump’s US which will no doubt be successful.
    On his terms of America First.

    • I’m a gallant Brexiteer. The result wasn’t “unreliable”, it was democracy – something the EU doesn’t understand, and it appears you don’t understand it either. Neither was it blaming everything on the EU – without good reason. The EU overrides British law on so many fronts, and was designed to slowly erode away a country’s sovereignty. It’s just that no one ever voted for that! Why do people like you (evidently a remoaner) gloss over this? Why don’t you admit that the EU’s very reason for being was to become an over-bearing, ruling elite of unelected people? And that people could not do anything about it? I’ll give you an example: The ‘director’ of policy on EU transport was a foreigner that you (as a voter) could do NOTHING about. Even the Prime Minister couldn’t do anything to get them out of their job – should they be incompetent. This isn’t democracy, Gareth, and it was designed this way!!! Is it like you don’t see it, or don’t realise it? I’m keen to know. Are you ignorant to the way the EU was set up, how it has changed, and what it would become, and that it was fundamentally undemocratic – or is it that you do know, but don’t care?

    • Any leader that doesn’t put his countries interests first, won’t be a leader for long.
      Why is it that socialists always find it offensive when an American president looks out for America first?
      Any deal between the US and Britain doesn’t have to be ratified if the British people/politicians find it isn’t in the interests of Britain.

  20. I hope it’s true. But not all the blame can be lain at the EU door. The monstrous Climate Change Act 2008 is home grown.

    There is another issue with EU legislation in that the UK is sometimes said to foolishly take a rather Anglo-Saxon attitude that EU rules are actually laws to be obeyed, rather than friendly advice to be ignored when convenient. Thus the UK never fully embraced the (rather low) underlying spirit of the European “project”. There is almost some basis for pride in saying that our politicians were never really up to the job.

  21. Scale down, as in one or two million acres of clear cutting of trees in the U.S. for wood pellets shipped trans Atlantic and burned in the UK in the name of climate goals?

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