Brexit ‘may slow UK’s ability to tackle climate change’

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‘Limited access to the right labour markets could compromise our ability to move at the pace needed’  (AP)
‘Limited access to the right labour markets could compromise our ability to move at the pace needed’ (AP)

Brexit could compromise the UK’s ability to move at the pace needed to tackle climate change by limiting access to the right labour markets, Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary has warned.

Michael Matheson told a British and Irish Council event at Cop26 that being able to attract skilled workers was required as part of the climate change response.

Using the renewable energy sector as an example, he stressed the importance of the UK maintaining a workforce that has the skills to manufacture, install and maintain vital technologies after leaving the European Union.

He said: “An issue across the whole of the UK and Ireland that we need to understand is that Brexit is having an impact that could start to compromise our ability to move at the pace we need to in order to tackle climate change.

“I’ve heard over and over again here at this summit about the need for pace and that this is a decisive decade; we heard it from the World Leaders Summit last week as well.

“Key to that is not just the deployment of technology, it’s also having the skills to manufacture, install and maintain that technology.

“We need to start to recognise that limited access to the right labour markets could compromise our ability to move at the pace at which we need to tackle climate change.”

It comes after a new draft of the final deal that could emerge from the Cop26 climate summit appears to have watered down its call to curb fossil fuels.

The first draft of the potential Glasgow pact released on Wednesday called for countries “to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Published in the early hours of Friday morning, the new draft instead calls for “accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

The texts from Glasgow are the first UN climate papers to make a specific mention of fossil fuels.

Some observers had suggested that they would not survive the rounds of intense negotiations between the 197 countries.

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