What Brexit might mean for climate, energy, pollution and yes, light bulbs

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© Scott Heppel/ Getty Images

On Grist, Clayton Aldern writes that Brexit could have serious repercussions for the climate. He notes that "Climate hawks are also concerned that a new government in Britain could be less committed to climate action. Prime Minister David Cameron pushed for the Paris Agreement, but he won’t be around for much longer....Many of the conservatives who had campaigned for Brexit are also climate deniers, and they will likely have more power in a new government."

Really, that's putting it mildly. In our post What impact will Brexit have on green building in Britain? I noted that Boris Johnson is a climate skeptic, but the British conservatives go a lot further than that. Just prior to the vote on leaving the European Union, The Telegraph, a house organ of the Conservative Party that supported leaving, listed 20 reasons you should vote to leave the European Union. Quite a few of them relate to environmental issues:

We could have proper vacuum cleaners
Under an EU regulation that took effect in 2014, vacuum cleaners with the most powerful motors (1,600 watts and above) are banned. The European Commission says the ban will save energy and encourage more efficient devices. Which?, a consumer group, says it prohibits some of the best machines currently being made. Sir James Dyson, the British industrialist, says the efficiency rules were skewed to favour German vacuums over his products.

Who needs a vacuum that draws more than 1600 watts? That would blow a circuit breaker in most North American homes. Dyson vacuums don't need 1600 watts. Yet this is an issue.

Fish!
The EU’s common fisheries policy attempts to manage and share EU fish stocks by giving each nation's fishermen quotas for what they can catch. Critics say that forces up prices for consumers, forces fishermen to dump millions of dead fish back in the sea, and decimates national fishing fleets.

But fish don't read maps and know where borders are. If there was anything that should be controlled internationally, it is fishing.

We could get rid of windfarms
Wondering where all those wind turbines come from? Brussels, of course. EU members have agreed to increase the share of their electricity generated from “renewable” sources. By 2020, Britain is supposed to get 15 per cent of its power this way and could in theory face legal action if that target is missed.

The Telegraph, on the other hand, would apparently rather go back to digging good British coal.

It would be easier to get rid of fridges
The EU has a say in how you dispose of white goods through Directive 2012/19/EU. Before the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive came in, you could dispose of your fridge in your local landfill to be destroyed by a giant metal crusher. But now fridges are deemed hazardous, so have to be disposed of safely in special closed units ("approved authorised treatment facilities"). This has spawned a new industry disposing of Britain's old fridges, and irritated a lot of householders.

The Telegraph, on the other hand, would rather have millions of tons of Freon and other ozone-destroying fluorocarbons just leak into the atmosphere rather than irritate householders.

No more stupid recycling bins
Local councils’ drive to get you to recycle more of your rubbish is partly driven by the EU. The European Commission wants much less rubbish to go to landfill, and its Landfill Directive sets tough targets for councils. As a result, the UK Government imposes heavy fines on councils for landfill use, adding to council tax bills and encouraging the proliferation of different household bins.

The Telegraph, on the other hand, would rather fill every hole in this small island with garbage instead of having to deal with the horror of recycling bins. And last but not least:

Finally, we could have proper lightbulbs again
In possibly the most infamous EU instruction in recent years, traditional incandescent lightbulbs are restricted in favour of low-energy alternatives, which many people feel do not offer the same level of illumination.

Showing that they have absolutely no idea about how lighting works, how a lumen is a lumen whether it is from an incandescent light or an LED, about how much money and energy they save.

It almost sounds tongue in cheek, the points are so silly (the others not related to the environment are almost as bad, such as "we could have blue passports again"). But it was probably deadly serious in its goal of getting people to vote leave, even if it is only so they can have their light bulbs back and not have to separate garbage. And it apparently worked.

And unfortunately, in America, many of the same views are held as well; Donald Trump blames environmental regulations for the state of his hair. We could soon have ozone-killing propellants back with our incandescent bulbs.

Tags: United Kingdom

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