Yesterday, the UK voted to leave the EU. What does this mean, if anything, for energy prices and green policies? A couple of months ago we wrote a blog about the latter. There will probably be no instant impact – it could take years for changes to take effect and for us to fully realise the extent of influence, but we’ve had a think about some possible effects.
Some believe energy prices could rise. If we don’t fix a trade deal with the EU, it’s certainly possible (although not a given) that it could be more expensive to import gas. We are increasingly reliant on gas imports since the decision to close all coal-powered power plants by 2025. However, the main reasons for fluctuations in energy prices are global, and it is worth noting that our trade deals with countries outside the EU shouldn’t be affected by our exit.
If these prices were to rise, it could promote a move to renewables in the future: wind, tidal, bio energy and energy storage. Aside from being welcomed by many on environmental grounds, it could improve energy security, as the more energy we produce ourselves, we would be more resistant to external shocks. Given the current government’s reluctance to invest in renewables, this push could be what it needs in order to start thinking more creatively.
There has been a lot of talk about ‘freedom from regulations’ resulting from an EU exit. We will certainly be free from a few, such as the Air Quality directive. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for discussion!
We’ll still be subject to global regulations though, such as carbon reduction targets and climate change commitments agreed at Paris in late 2015.
The UK – whether inside or outside of the EU – can stand on its own feet in these matters. However, the government needs to fill the current policy vacuum when it comes to the approaching energy gap. Nothing has replaced the scrapped Green Deal in encouraging homeowners and business owners to introduce energy saving measures.
Leaving the EU is a chance for the UK to think up a clear and consistent energy policy before we reach crisis point.
Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?
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