Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Brexit - Business calls the tune

Following industry lobbying, the Government last week announced a £100m-per-year exemption from environmental taxes for the firms that use the most energy. Following a concerted effort by Ineos and other chemicals firms the Government last week announced a £100m-per-year exemption from the carbon trading scheme for the companies that use the most energy, to add to the £250m in tax breaks it had already granted.

Chemicals giant Ineos has been accused of exploiting Brexit to pressure ministers to get rid of environmental legislation. The company pushed the government to roll back measures that mean energy-intensive industries pay to develop low-carbon power sources

In one document Ineos laid out its Brexit demands: “Outside the EU: simplify the UK policy mix and seek a single route to 100% exemption from policy costs and CCL [climate change levy]. Seek a low-cost alternative to EU ETS [the EU’s carbon trading scheme].”

Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: 

“Ineos are exploiting what they see as an opportunity in Brexit to seek further exemptions from environmental regulations. What other companies are seeking to cynically use Brexit as a chance to weaken vital social and environmental protections? The Leave campaign urged voters to 'take back control' - not to cede power to vast multinationals engaged in shadowy lobbying operations.”

The newly-obtained documents contain internal communications from the Chemistry Growth Partnership, a body in which ministers and industry executives meet to discuss policy for the sector. They provide a window into a lobbying campaign over almost four years by chemicals firms to exempt themselves from regulation designed to help the environment. In an update from February 2017, the group trumpeted its own success: “The CGP lobbied hard for affordable energy costs for energy intensive industries and our input helped to secure a £7bn [energy-intensive industries] package at Budget 2013 and the exemption announcement at Autumn Statement 2015.”

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