Leaving the EU would create “identifiable and substantial risks to the UK’s future environmental ambitions”, according to an analysis published by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP).
The research, commissioned by WWF-UK, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts, suggests that membership of the EU has had a positive impact on the UK’s environment.
Directives passed down from Brussels have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy, “transformed” waste management, and “built a legislative framework to protect our seas”, the authors noted. Brexit could undo a lot of this.
That isn’t to say everything is hunky-dory: biodiversity loss remains a major concern and the Common Agricultural Policy is (by many accounts) not fit for purpose. There’s also the possibility that the bloc’s climate change commitments are not ambitious enough.
“Not everything that comes from Europe has been good for the natural world,” said WWF-UK director of advocacy Trevor Hutchings. “But on balance membership of the EU has delivered benefits for our environment that would be hard to replicate in the event of the UK leaving.”