Photographer: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

EU Climate Laws Helped Lead to Brexit, Environment Lobbyist Says

  • European 2008 rules were far too top-down, Worthington says
  • Environmental Defense Fund official speaks at conference

The European Union rules on 2020 climate and energy goals helped feed the negative sentiment that led to a decision by British voters to leave the bloc, according to environmental lobbyist Bryony Worthington.

“The European 2008 package, without realizing that, contributed to and fostered some of the conditions that led to Brexit,” Worthington, the executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, said during the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit in London on Monday. “It was too far top-down in its view and too inflexible in its approach to climate change.”

EU policy makers approved eight years ago a set of laws to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels, boost energy efficiency by a fifth and increase the share of renewables in energy consumption by 20 percent. To meet the goals, European member states had to translate the rules into domestic legislation and enact policies to promote the transition to low-carbon economy.

The EU is currently discussing a climate and energy package for the next decade after the bloc’s leaders agreed in 2014 to tighten the carbon-cut goal to at least 40 percent by 2030.

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