The Scottish Parliament will today (Thursday) debate the potential impact of Brexit on the environment and climate change. Friends of the Earth Scotland highlighted a number of risks in advance of the debate.

Dr Richard Dixon Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“The Scottish Government have already promised to keep up important environmental protections, but they face pressure at home from farming and fishing lobbies and from a UK government with a very different set of priorities on climate, nature and energy policy.

“The UK is currently supposed to contribute to meeting European climate, energy efficiency and renewable energy targets. After Brexit we will need to agree new climate targets with the United Nations. Scotland's targets are already significantly more ambitious that the current overall UK targets but any agreement with the UN may be on the basis of those weaker UK targets, reducing the drive for a low-carbon economy.

“After Brexit, there will be no compulsion on the UK to set any targets for energy saving or green energy, which are both essential for meeting Scotland's ambitious climate targets. The current UK Government’s energy priorities are nuclear power and fracking, and they have already reduced support for renewable energy. There is a real danger that Scotland will toughen up its own climate target, to play its fair part in delivering the UN Paris Agreement, only to be held back by UK energy market rules rigged to support nuclear power.”

“There will likely be a huge drive within the UK Government to rip up laws which protect nature, prevent pollution and set standards for a clean environment. Most of EU environmental law is devolved to Holyrood so Scotland can decide to keep these protections in place but we will still feel the impact of deep cuts to budgets for managing the environment. As a society we lose the protection of being able to appeal to European courts if either the UK or Scottish governments are failing to protect the environment.

“We cannot allow any trade deals, either at a UK or Scottish level, to weaken any important environmental regulations or promote the import of environmentally destructive products. We have witnessed the huge public backlash to the EU deals with Canada and USA which are driven by demands of big business and had threatened to remove valuable public safeguards mistakenly labelling them as ‘barriers to trade’ .”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The Scottish Government debate on “Environment and Climate Change (European Union Referendum)” is scheduled for 2:30pm on Thursday 27th October.

2. The Scottish Government pledged to not reduce environmental protections in July http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14638722.Scotland_will_not_be_forced_into_regressive_environmental_laws_despite_Brexit_vote__says_minister/

3. The EU- Canada trade deal CETA was blocked this week by Belgian region of Wallonia citing concerns about the safeguards on labour, environmental and consumer standards.

4. The EU-USA trade deal TTIP has been fiercely opposed across Europe with over 3.2 million signatures on a petition rejecting it. Food quality standards, consumer and environmental protection could be weakened as EU harmonizes its standards down to US levels. TTIP poses particular threats in areas such as fracking and nuclear power where Scotland has adopted a more cautious approach than the UK Government. TTIP would provide a legal mechanism for companies to weaken rules governing the fracking industry and to challenge bans and moratoria.

5. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk