Within the EU, Britain can take the lead on tackling climate change


This piece first appeared in The Guardian





Letter from John Gummer, Chris Huhne, Adair Turner, Craig Bennett, Tom Burke, Amy Cameron, Michael Jacobs, John Sauven, Matthew Spencer, James Thornton and Crispin Tickell





Britain has shown great diplomatic leadership on climate change and successive governments have had a major influence on action to decarbonise the world’s economy. We believe that the UK’s standing as an international climate leader could recede within months if we were to leave the EU.

Membership of the EU has enabled the UK to punch above its weight. It has given us a platform to influence not only the climate commitments of our European neighbours, but also those of the US and China. In the last European parliament, all countries agreed to follow the carbon reduction trajectory set by the UK for the next 15 years.

It was a British diplomat who led the European negotiating bloc at the UN climate conference in Paris last year, persuading the EU to champion a long-term goal and a commitment to raise the world’s ambition on carbon emissions reduction every five years. This was agreed by all 194 countries in the final Paris agreement. The UK could not have exerted this influence acting alone.

Brexit would damage our national interest by reducing our diplomatic leverage. Never again would a British official be able to play such a pivotal role in climate negotiations. Never again would we be in a position to persuade 27 other European nations to follow our lead.

As last winter’s floods have demonstrated, climate change is a real and present threat to the UK. Our experience of the past 20 years leads us to conclude that we are stronger, safer and greener in the European Union.


Craig Bennett Executive director, Friends of the Earth
Tom Burke Chairman, E3G
Amy Cameron Director, 10:10
John Gummer Chair, Committee on Climate Change
Chris Huhne Former secretary of state for energy and climate change
Michael Jacobs Visiting professor, Grantham Research Institute, LSE
John Sauven Executive director, Greenpeace UK
Matthew Spencer Director, Green Alliance
James Thornton Chief executive, ClientEarth
Crispin Tickell Former British ambassador to the United Nations
Adair Turner Former chair of the Committee on Climate Change


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About tomburke

Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a member of the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever and a Trustee of the Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool.
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