European Union exit impact on the environment

John Sauven. Picture: Getty

John Sauven. Picture: Getty

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Many of the laws that make our drinking and bathing water safe, our air cleaner, our fishing industry more sustainable and our climate safer now hang by a thread. But Greenpeace is determined that this country will not go back to year zero on environmental protection.

Over the coming months we all need to demand that the government replaces European regulations protecting nature with new UK laws that are just as strong.

The climate change-denying wing of the Conservative Party will be strengthened by this vote for Brexit. That means the green movement, indeed every Briton who values a clean and safe environment, may need to stand up for nature in the face of an attack on the natural world. The environment barely featured in this campaign. Whoever comes to occupy Downing Street does not have a mandate to gut the environmental laws that we all rely on to protect us from pollution.

Expecting the UK government to provide stronger protections without being under any pressure to do so would be like expecting Brexit to provide an extra £350 million a week to the NHS. Hopefully none of us are that naïve.

So we need to maintain our commitment to democracy, and make ourselves heard in the corridors of Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels. This is the 21st century, the era of renewable power and sustainable growth. The great powers of this century are not going to follow the UK government in a retreat back to the technologies and standards of an earlier age. Nor should we.

- John Sauven is Executive Director of Greenpeace UK

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