Researchers at the UK Energy Research Centre have delivered their verdict so far on the effects which Britain’s quitting the EU has had on energy. Any ‘sunlit uplands’ promised are yet to materialise, they conclude.
Based at University College London, the UKERC is composed of academics at 20 UK universities and Chatham House. It is funded by research bodies such as UK Research and Innovation and public funding bodies.
More than a year after the end of UK’s the Transition Period, and on the day when Jacob Rees-Mogg’s incumbency begins as new minister searching for ‘Brexit opportunities”, Parliament’s all-party public accounts committee releases its report saying that it could find ‘no positive effects’ of Brexit on the UK’s economy. The June 2016 vote has resulted five and half years later in a ‘clear increase in costs, paperwork and border delays’, the MPs judge.
In their separate report entitled “Brexit and Decarbonisation One Year On: Friction, Fish and fine tuning”, researchers Mathieu Blondeel, Antony Froggatt & Caroline Kuzemko weigh up Brexit’s effects to date on issues such as interconnectors, emissions reductions and renewables, and carbon trading, as governed by Westminster and by Brussels.
Specific to the energy sector, major insights from the UERC report are:
- Britain has managed to operationalise its emissions trading system in record time. Although volatile, the UK carbon price per ton(ne) has remained similar to the EU’s.
- Brexit’s impact on new interconnector capacity has not been as significant as some commentators feared. But existing links are being used less efficiently due to default trade rules.
- Net zero remains a binding target, but industry concerns persist about measures from Whitehall and from Brussels for its delivery. “The development of joint projects and infrastructure for offshore wind is a clear opportunity and a necessary win-win for the EU and UK”, say researchers.
- Brexit is still, in practical terms, far from ‘over’, the report says. “(re-)negotiations are ongoing and details of new agreements and regimes are, as yet, unresolved but may still be masked by the Covid pandemic.
- “Energy and climate renegotiations continue to be caught in the cross-fire of Brexit friction between the UK and EU, largely on Northern Ireland and fishing issues”. At the same time, the UK has lost abilities to influence the considerable amount of new climate and energy policy emerging from the EU.
- ‘Doing’ Brexit has taken up civil service and political capacity, at a time when new climate policies are urgently required to enable the UK to get back on track to meeting ambitious legally binding emissions reduction targets. This has been exacerbated by Covid-19.
Read the full report here.