The new EU Environment Chief, Erik Solheim, speaking to the Guardian for the first time post-Brexit has called for the UK and EU to remain aligned on important global environmental issues.
Pledges made by pro-Brexit ministers to scrap the birds and habitats directive “in the heat of the campaign” should not set the tenor of post-Brexit environmental policy, he said.
Cross border environmental issues can't be addressed independently, such as wildlife crime and pollution. There has to be inter-country cooperation to maintain the level of environmental protection we currently have. Solheim comments that, “It is very, very important to defend these regional environmental mechanisms as there is no way we can protect migratory animals like birds in just one habitat. You need global or regional agreements and I’m absolutely confident that the UK will remain committed to this, whatever happens.”
Norway sits outside the EU, but brought its carbon emissions into the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and adopted nearly all of the EU’s environmental law. "You can coordinate closely with the EU even if you’re outside it.” Solheim suggests.
Like Norway, the UK could remain a member of the ETS and subscribe to virtually all of the EU’s climate and environment legislation, while keeping the ability to launch independent diplomatic demarches.
“Norway has utilised the space of not being an EU member to pursue peace initiatives in different parts of the world which would probably have been more difficult if it was in the EU,” he said. “It allows the space to take global leadership on some issues.”
Norway and the UK were “like twins” in many ways, he added.
Read more on the Guardian website; 'UN calls for post-Brexit UK to link with EU on environment policy'