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Brexit and the key to sustaining Europe

How one referendum may even bring us closer together; so long as we remain united in our commitment to make the world a better place

January 9, 2017   |   London, UK

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IMAGE: Yves Herman

We’re going to keep this short and sweet. Because the simple fact of the matter is that we don’t have the answers for what’s going to happen following on from the UK’s referendum. As we’ve detailed in previous articles about Brexit: trying to predict where we’re going to go from here is merely an exercise in futility, and we’d rather not waste your valuable time.

 

We’d much rather put forward the message that now is the time for everyone to put personal views aside and do that quintessentially British thing of rolling our sleeves up and getting on with it.

 

For our biggest challenge is not Britain leaving the EU, but how to manage climate change, pollution, forest and wildlife destruction, and how to cut down on our use of fossil fuels. These are the most pressing challenges of our times, and ones which can only be overcome with bilateral and regional cooperation between the UK and all EU Member States.

 

The UK and the EU: an environmental perspective

 

The UK has always shown initiative and served as an example when it has come to creating and meeting long-term emission goals. The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to set legally binding carbon budgets, whilst the UK played a huge part in the setting up of the world’s largest carbon market, the European Trading Scheme (EU ETS), even getting some of the biggest emission emitting industries in the world to do their bit.

 

And the let’s not forget about the all-important role of the EU: a politico-economic union which has long been at the forefront of the battle against climate change. As a key player in developing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, the EU was instrumental in setting the 2C global warming limit (agreeing to this as far back as 1996) and has consistently been setting more ambitious emission targets than the rest of the industrialised world.

 

There’s no getting around the fact that Britain and the EU share a long history of working together cooperatively to improve outcomes that have had a real impact on tackling climate change. The Paris Agreement served as another valuable reminder of how well Britain and the EU can work together and influence each other in the climate policy area. Now is not the time to throw all of that away.

 

Both the UK and the EU must now put climate action at the forefront of their actions and policies. This in turn can serve as a starting agenda for the Brexit negotiations. Yes, Britain has decided to leave the EU. But that doesn’t mean that Britain has decided to abandon Europe, and nor should we let it blind us to the bigger picture. And just as Britain must now come together to forge a new place in Europe and the rest of the world; so must the EU redefine its partnerships and be prepared to work with all countries of the European continent to ensure that we’re not going to let political stubbornness get in the way of the legacy we leave behind for future generations. Because at the end of the day that is all that matters.

 

In this respect, Brexit is a wake-up call for us all. It’s a reminder that everything changes and nothing stays the same. It’s time for us, for all of us, to all revisit our vision of Europe and leave the past behind. Europe will not only survive this test, but will come out the other end all the stronger.

 

It’s time for us to all pull together and look to the future. And what a bright future that can be.

 

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