What does a no-deal Brexit mean for your environmental policy?


With Britain’s departure from the EU imminent, and a no-deal Brexit looking more likely by the day, UK-based organisations are bracing themselves for an upheaval in policy, procedure and protocols. From manufacturing to trade deals, there’s a sea of change afoot. And environmental standards and legislation are no different. There’s never been a more critical time to get your green ducks in a row.

No deal, no change?

In the government’s latest guidance, there was a welcome emphasis on the UK’s vital role in combating climate change and the country’s continued commitment to relevant international treaties. It emphasised that the Climate Change Act, which is domestic legislation, will remain unaffected by Brexit.

So that means nothing’s going to change, right? Not exactly.

Keeping emissions under control

Under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) around 1,000 UK operators must have plans in place to monitor their emissions and produce annual reports. They’re regulated by the European Commission, and the reports are verified independently. Operators are allocated annual emission allowances to their ETS Union Registry account, which they must give up based on the amount of carbon dioxide they’ve emitted.

Some operators receive free allowances from their member state, while some can buy additional allowances. Since 1 January 2019, the UK has not been able to allocate free allowances or auction allowances for operators, and in a no-deal scenario, this will remain the status quo. After no-deal, Union Registry accounts will be inaccessible to operators, too.

Emissions: after no-deal Brexit

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, current UK operators participating in the EU ETS will cease to do so. And emissions from flights within the UK, and between the UK and the EU, will no longer be covered by the previous obligations.

That means the requirements to surrender emission allowances for the remainder of 2019 and beyond will be removed, but the government plans to continue current monitoring, reporting and verification arrangements to make sure there’s still transparency. For example, aircraft operators registered in the UK after exit day will continue to report their emissions on the same flights as previously.

However, unlike before, operators must use verifiers accredited by the UK Accreditation Service. With time of the essence, the government is advising that operators and traders wishing to retain access to their ETS allowances, should consider opening an account in another member state’s registry.

Great British climate concerns

Emissions monitoring and reporting isn’t the only change facing UK businesses. Here are a few other issues to keep an eye on as the withdrawal date approaches.

Carbon Emissions Tax

Applying from 4 November 2019, this tax will help the UK meet its legally binding carbon reduction commitments under the Climate Change Act. It will see £16 applied to each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted over an operator’s allowance. The aviation sector will not be subject to this tax.

Carbon dioxide geological storage

In the event of no-deal, legislation has been drawn up to help preserve the functionality of the existing regime in areas where the Oil and Gas Authority licenses storage of carbon dioxide.

Energy intensive industry relief schemes

An equivalent to these schemes, which cover the indirect policy costs of carbon pricing, will be established in due course. This will help compensate for the indirect emission costs created by the Carbon Emissions Tax.

See green, not red

Big changes are ahead, but that doesn’t mean your business’s environmental policy and procedures should be causing you a headache. With ISO 14001 certification, you can rest assured that you’re reducing your environmental impact no matter the political climate.

ISO 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and can apply to any business of any size in any sector. Through pursuing certification, you can set up an EMS that helps you reduce waste, improve efficiency, and cut costs.

What are the benefits of ISO 14001?

• Save money through resource, waste and energy management

• Improve resource efficiency and reduce your business’s environmental impact

• Win new customers by improving your corporate image

• Be in the driving seat: quantify, monitor and control your operations’ impact

• Reduce the chance of fines and prosecutions by complying with legislation


Britain’s future relationship with the EU is still uncertain, but you don’t have to be. QMS is here to help you navigate the rocky waters of compliance and certification post-Brexit and beyond. Why not get in touch to see how we can help?

Don’t get caught out by no-deal confusion. Speak to one of our expert advisors today.

Source: ‘Meeting climate change requirements if there’s no Brexit deal’, 29 July 2019

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About the author

  • Name:

    Maxine Green

  • Company:

    Digital Marketing Manager

  • Bio:

    Maxine has worked for QMS since 2018, and is focused on providing informational content that will help businesses to grow and develop.


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