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UK energy & economic security 'stronger within the EU'

3 min read

Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister Barry Gardiner writes that being in the EU ensures both the UK's energy and economic security.

Climate change does not respect borders. Not its impacts, not its solutions. Protecting ourselves against climate change requires cooperation with other countries.

With political debate raging about whether we’d be safer in or out of the EU, let’s not forget that the Ministry of Defence have identified climate change as a major issue that will threaten world peace and security. The Foreign Office have examined ‘climate-fragility risks’ as a G7 priority for geopolitical stability; and last autumn the Governor of the Bank of England issued a stark warning that climate change will become a ‘defining issue for financial

Our military, strategic and economic security is best served by staying in the European Union.

Global influence

Europe has been a driving force on the world stage, securing a strong climate deal in Paris last December. Globally the UK could not have exercised such influence on its own. It was being part of the EU that gave the UK a louder voice in shaping a deal to avoid dangerous temperature rise.

And before Paris, at a European level the UK also led the way and pushed for stronger commitments to reduce Europe’s carbon pollution. The truth is that being part of the EU has enabled us to push other countries in Europe to do more – and then as the EU to push the rest of the world to go further as well. Our EU membership has been a double amplifier for the UK’s voice in cleaning up our shared atmosphere.

Energy Security

Working with our EU partners makes meeting the UK’s major energy challenges easier and cheaper. As the world’s largest single market, the UK has been able to be influence the setting of the common product standards that regulate the clean green technologies upon which our future economic growth depends. More than this, the National Grid have found that doubling interconnection with our European neighbours by 2020 would save the UK £1bn per year in energy costs.

Boosting investment

A recent Bloomberg report showed that the UK benefits most in the EU from European Investment Bank funding for clean energy projects. The UK is also one of the top three recipients from the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which will focus heavily on energy. This is money that creates new high-skilled jobs in the UK. Losing out on EU funding would be a significant blow for our low-carbon industry.

Maintaining Investor Confidence

This government’s treatment of solar feed-in tariffs, early ending of Renewable Obligation Credits and undermining of wind power have destabilised investor confidence. For the first time the UK has fallen outside the top ten places for low carbon investment. It is only EU-wide climate goals that now provide a lifeline to the UK’s clean energy sector, reassuring investors who have been put off by the Conservatives’ flip-flopping on energy policy.

Being part of the EU makes the British transition to clean energy easier, cheaper and less risky. In the EU our energy security is stronger. In the EU our climate security is stronger. In the EU our economic security is stronger.

Barry Gardiner is the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister & the Labour MP fro Brent North. He is on the steering committee for Environmentalists for Europe .

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