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.
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.