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June, 06 2017

UKELA present on Brexit at House of Commons library

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Posted by Richard Macrory at 11:55

HOC Lib

On June 1st Richard Macrory and Victoria Jenkins from UKELA were invited to speak in the House of Commons Library to researchers from the UK Parliament and Devolved Administrations on Brexit and environmental law.

Richard spoke about international environmental law and the extent to which the UK will remain bound by international conventions after Brexit. UKELA will publish a major report on the subject in the Autumn. Victoria considered environmental law developments in Wales, and the likely legal situation following Brexit. They were then followed by Navraj Ghaleigh from the University of Edinburgh who spoke about climate change law and Brexit.

It was clear that post-Brexit there are likely to be greater divergencies in many areas of environmental law across the devolved jurisdictions in the UK, a development which could have benefits in allowing new initiatives (the Welsh plastic bag tax being a good example). There was a lively discussion on the challenges for Parliament and the devolved legislatures in monitoring regulatory developments following Great Repeal Bill.

More details of UKELA’s work on Brexit can be found on the UKELA Brexit page.

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September, 25 2017

International Report considered by Parliament

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Posted by Joe Newbigin at 13:17

We are glad to see that the points raised in our report Brexit and Environmental Law: The UK and International Environmental Law after Brexit are being discussed in Parliament.

Parl Qs

Two weeks ago Caroline Lucas MP asked two questions which reflect issues we raise in that report. The first question asks the Secretary of State “which international environmental agreements to which the UK is currently a party as a consequence of ratification by the EU he plans the UK to ratify in order to maintain the current level of environmental protection after the UK leaves the EU”? This reflects the concerns we have raised in relation to EU-only agreements. The second question asks “what the legal position will be of international environmental agreements ratified jointly by the EU and the UK after the UK leaves the EU”

Dr Thérèse Coffey MP responded on behalf of Defra:

“The UK will continue to be bound by international Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which it is party. We are committed to upholding our international obligations under these agreements and will continue to play an active role internationally following our departure from the EU. We will give due consideration to the ratification of MEAs in the future to which the UK is not currently party in its own right,(recognising that some risks have no relevance to the UK.)”

We welcome Dr Coffey’s acknowledgment of the issue surrounding EU-only international environmental agreement, but trust that in due course the Government will elaborate in more detail which EU-only international environmental agreements it will sign and/or ratify in order to maintain the current level of environmental protection.

However, we remain concerned that the position of mixed agreements is still unclear. Dr Coffey’s response is consistent both with her answer to a previous written question and her evidence to the House of Lords Energy and Environment Sub-Committee last year (see paragraph 48). In summary, she says that because the UK is a party to mixed agreements in its own right it will remain bound by the obligations they contain, and this will not change after Brexit. Our concern is that despite this legal uncertainties and unresolved disagreements remain as to whether the UK will be automatically bound by all the obligations under mixed agreements after Brexit (see paragraphs 38 to 46 of our report).

We reemphasise our call for the UK Government to make a clear statement of its understanding of the legal position of these mixed agreements after Brexit. Ideally this would be a joint understanding with the European Commission. This would go a long way to resolving the uncertainty surrounding the future of mixed environmental agreements.

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December, 05 2017

UKELA at Parliamentary Committee to discuss Mixed Agreements

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Posted by Joe Newbigin at 16:35

UKELA was again invited to give evidence to the House of Commons Select Committees, this time to the Environmental Audit Committee. Today Professor Macrory, co-chair of our Brexit Task Force, appeared before the Committee's inquiry into UK progress on reducing F-Gas emissions. The session focused on how the UK deals with mixed international agreements, with a particular focus on the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment, and the Kyoto Protocol. The future of these agreements was something UKELA addressed in our report The UK and International Environmental Law after Brexit.

Macrory at EAC on F-Gas

The Committee was particularly interested in whether the UK would continue to be bound by the Montreal Protocol after Brexit. Richard was clear that UKELA did not think that that this agreement, or either of the other international agreements regulating F-Gases, would fall. Nevertheless, when asked whether the UK Government should do more to clarify what its position is on the future of mixed agreements Richard said that the UK should do more. Referring to a recent answer given by a Defra minister he said:

“If I had a student who answered a question like that, I would have to mark them down for not answering the question. What UKELA would like to see is for the Government to come up with a clear legal analysis of precisely what the case would be under a convention. In an ideal world, one would have a joint statement from the Commission and the UK Government.”

Both the other experts on the panel agreed that a common position between the UK and the EU would dispel uncertainty and remove any ambiguity relating to mixed agreements. Professor Koutrakos, noting that this would be consistent with statements made by the European Council, said that in the current climate this was “not as eccentric as it might appear”. Dr Savaresi suggested that a joint statement may form the basis of a declaration issued with depositories of mixed agreement, or be formalised in a future collateral arrangement.

You can watch the full session on Parliament TV and UKELA's written evidence can be found on the inquiry's webpage. More information about the inquiry is available on Parliament's website.

[Update 14/12/17] The full transcript of Richard's evidence can be found here.

About this blog

Welcome to the UKELA Brexit Task Force blog where we consider the impact of Brexit on environmental law, practice and enforcement in the UK
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