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We can do much more to fight climate crisis if we stay in EU

by Hugo Dixon | 20.09.2019

We owe it to the children protesting around the world to tackle the climate emergency. The UK can play a bigger role in doing so if we cancel Brexit.

The climate crisis suffers from what is known as the “tragedy of the commons”. Fighting it will involve sacrifices to our short-term economic growth. But each country on its own has little incentive to take the necessary steps. That’s because one country’s actions have little impact on what is a global problem. But if countries don’t take sufficient action, the global temperature will keep rising and we will end up with more heatwaves, floods and droughts.

The classic answer to the tragedy of the commons is collective action. Countries club together and agree that each makes sacrifices.

One mid-sized country such as the UK can have little impact on its own. But working together with 27 other Europen nations, we can be an influential voice across the world in making the world carbon neutral.

We have already been one of Europe’s leaders in fighting climate change. Our Climate Change Act 2008 was the world’s first legally-binding framework for tackling the problem. We also played a helpful role in securing the Paris climate change pact – working with France and others to leverage Europe’s influence on a global scale.

Much more needs to be done. But will we really be able to lead the way if we quit the EU? 

It’s not just that our politicians will be so distracted by picking up the pieces that they won’t be able to focus on saving our planet. They will have much less influence on other countries’ behaviour.

The rest of Europe won’t be so keen to listen to our suggestions, as we won’t be sitting round the top table any longer. The rest of the world will be more inclined to ignore us too. Indeed, we may be so desperate to curry favour with other powers that we will bite our lips if they deny the climate crisis. Remember how feeble Theresa May was in confronting Donald Trump at the G7 two years ago.

By contrast, if we stay in the EU, we can encourage our friends to be more ambitious in setting climate targets. And we can use the EU’s clout around the world to persuade and cajole countries elsewhere to up their game.

So let’s protest against the climate crisis. Let’s also stop Brexit, as it is one of the most important practical steps that we can take to prevent our planet frying.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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Edited by James Earley

Categories: Environment, EU Politics

2 Responses to “We can do much more to fight climate crisis if we stay in EU”

  • Brexit is bound to accelerate the rate of CO2 emissions. Downgrading trade with our geographically closest market will logically mean increasing the reliance on markets in other parts of the planet. This will lead to increased reliance on air travel. Why otherwise is the Government so eager to expand Heathrow? Noteworthy that Boris has done a U turn from lying in front of bulldozers at Heathrow. I wonder why?

  • Want to make a bet that the UK, well England most likely, is going to check out it’s coal reserves as soon as they have taken back control? Finding oil to be extortionally expensive due to the crashed pound, all that lovely coal still to be dug up all of a sudden takes on an entirely different perspective. See also Trump’s little caper with his coal mines.