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The UK Snap Election's Potential Legacy

An Interview with William Bain and Simon Evans on the Brexit, Climate, and Energy Policy implications

· Brexit,General Election,Climate Change,Podcast,Environmental Policy

It's a mere 20 days until the UK Snap Election and only 5 days remain for eligible voters to register.

To consider the overall implications of this vote - as well as some specific climate and energy questions - we're delighted to be joined on the podcast by:


  • In Scotland, this election is a form of referendum on having another independence referendum.
  • William draws a comparison of Prime Minister Theresa May to former PM Stanley Baldwin.
  • Given the focus on Brexit, the issue of energy has been more prominent than expected due to the Tories' proposed price cap.
  • The polling gives some signs of a realignment in UK voting towards right-of-centre, with UKIP serving as a 'gateway-drug' from Labour to Conservative.
  • Since 2015, we saw some shifts on energy and climate policy, but are still waiting for much of the longer-term vision. "... apart from slashing subsidies, it's mainly been a case of stasis".
  • The list of climate policies we're waiting for includes (1) release of the Clean Growth Plan, and (2) the future of the Carbon Price Floor.
  • Implications of this election's outcome? - There are major implications if the Government interprets Brexit as a need to (1) leave the EU Single Market and (2) leave the EU Customs Union.
  • Chatham House's recent report on the joint benefits of the UK staying in the EU Energy Union: "It is in both the UK’s and the EU27’s interests for the UK to continue to collaborate on energy policy with EU and non-EU member states. The best way to achieve this would be to establish a robust new pan-European energy partnership: an enlarged European Energy Union."
  • If the UK wants to partially remain in the EU - like Norway - EU rules would apply but it would become a 'rule taker' without a voice at the table.
  • Prospects for the UK's continued participation in the EU ETS? This depends on whether the UK Government decides the European Court of Justice has jurisdiction. If not, the UK could opt to setup its own ETS, but it would likely look to link-up with the EU ETS anyway. Alternatively, the low prices of EU ETS allowances and the UK's progress on decarbonising the power sector using a Carbon Price Floor means the next Government might say 'good riddance.'
  • "This issue about the European Court of Justice is absolutely fundamental... if you're going to have a system where you cooperate with other countries, you have to have some kind of institution that resolves disputes... [if not ECJ] you could stay in the European Economic Area and use the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) Court."
  • Implications for the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement: The UK has - on its own - ratified the Paris Agreement. Logistically, the UK would need to come up with its own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

Final Thoughts

  • Regardless of the election's outcome, the next Government needs to release its Clean Growth Plan. There are major national energy policy decisions looming. The Government's strategy and commitments need to be clearly stated to provide certainty for investors and UK business.
  • Over the next two years, formalising 'transitional arrangements' with the EU is critical for the UK economy. There are existing models that could be used by the next Government to preserve important forms of European cooperation.

Why should I vote in another election?

  • William: "In Scotland, this is the seventh vote over the last three years!... This is an election that's going to set the UK's direction - in terms of economic and foreign policy - for at least a decade, perhaps 15 years. Wherever you stand on this Brexit election, make your voice heard... this election will be a historic repositioning of Britain's standing in the world."
  • Simon: "The changes that we're facing over the next five years - it's the biggest changes certainly in my lifetime. It's impossible to see how anyone could argue that voting doesn't matter."

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