The UK referendum vote on June 23, 2016, to leave the European
Union has led the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change
Committee to ask questions as to how this will affect the "UK
position with respect to existing EU pledges and policies, and its
future interaction with the EU bloc to fight climate change."
UK climate change policy to date has seen stand-alone national
initiatives as well as collaborative international policies being
At the same time, and in light of the 2015 Paris Agreement
requirements, the European Commission is considering how the impact
of Brexit may lead to a revisiting of individual Member States
contributions to meet the EU's target of cutting emissions to
at least 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.
Until it formally ceases to be a member of the EU, which is not
expected to happen for at least two years, and possibly no earlier
than 2019, the United Kingdom continues to be bound by and must
comply with applicable EU obligations. At a time when the United
Kingdom's overall share of carbon allowances has not yet been
agreed at the EU level for the purposes of the EU 2030 Paris
Agreement commitment, it is notable that the United Kingdom has
continued to set its own national budget. Shortly after the Brexit
vote, the United Kingdom passed the Carbon Budget Order 2016 to
adopt its fifth carbon budget. The budget (which is a legal
requirement under the Climate Change Act 2008) sets a cap of 1.725
billion tons of CO2 equivalent for the period from 2028–32.
This would limit UK annual emissions in this period to an average
of 57 percent below 1990 levels. The cap excludes international
maritime emissions from the domestic budget. What remains unclear
is how the government will take steps to implement these goals,
with measures to be set out at the end of this year. What is also
unclear is what the United Kingdom's future role might be under
the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which will depend on negotiations
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On 15 February 2017, the European Commission sent final warnings (a Reasoned Opinion) to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom for failing to comply with the air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide.
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