Brexit implications for business and the environment in Northern Ireland

Brexit

In addition to the 2020 renewable energy and environmental objectives, the EU has defined its new   objectives for 2030. They are a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 27% share of renewable energy in the primary energy supply. This objective has been defined, including the United Kingdom and revolves around two main axes: the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the share of renewable energy in the energy supply. The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU will impact on the total commitment made for 2030.

It is unclear how this will affect Northern Ireland, which never had legally binding targets, but was expected to contribute to the overall UK commitment. Much of our Environmental and Renewable energy targets were driven by EU Directives and it remains to be seen if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has not convened since January 2017, because of political issues, has the determination to continue to support the environment, and mitigate climate change.

Businesses in Northern Ireland have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty, even more so than their UK counterparts, because of the land border with Ireland. Over the last twelve months, since the vote for Brexit, there has little clarity about what might happen in Northern Ireland, because the political plans for the shape of Brexit have not yet been drawn up.

If, during the course of the last year, there was greater clarity about how Brexit might be delivered, then businesses could now be clearer about what they will need to do to cope with Brexit. It is remarkable that after a year, businesses probably know less about the future shape of Brexit than they did a year ago, because the roadmap is less clear and it has become even more unclear, because of the UK General Election. The level of uncertainty has increased over the year,  rather than diminished.

The issues surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive, in Northern Ireland, have created a situation where there now appears to be a low level of trust, in both Government circles, and within social society for renewable energy. It makes the work of GREBE even more relevant in Northern Ireland, than before, and highlights the need for future policy initiatives, to support RE businesses which are trying to survive and to grow.

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